Skip to comments.Sales drop at Wendy's after finger found
Posted on 03/25/2005 7:19:58 PM PST by crushelits
|COLUMBUS, Ohio - Sales have dropped sharply at Wendy's fast food restaurants in the area of northern California where a woman claimed she found part of a finger in a bowl of chili, but analysts say the company's long-term prognosis should not be affected.
Peter Oakes, a restaurant analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York, said he doesn't expect Wendy's business to suffer long term from the discovery Tuesday night of a partial finger.
The hamburger chain serves about 6 million meals a day across the country and has a "national reputation for both quality and cleanliness," he said.
"To me the yard stick here is whether the single incident prompts the consumer to lose confidence in the brand. It's understandable to see some kind of knee-jerk reaction," Oakes said.
Franchise owners have informed the company's corporate headquarters in the Columbus suburb of Dublin that business is down, said Denny Lynch, spokesman for Wendy's International Inc. He said he could not release specific sales figures because Wendy's does not own those restaurants.
"It is an isolated incident. However, it is dramatically affecting sales in that market," Lynch said.
Authorities in San Jose, Calif., planned to search a fingerprint database on Friday to try to identify the finger's owner.
Capt. Bob Dixon of the Santa Clara County coroner's office said he did not know when their fingerprint expert might have a match. "Nobody's claimed it yet," he said.
U.S. financial markets were closed Friday for the holiday weekend. The day before, on Thursday, Wendy's shares rose 43 cents, or 1.1 percent, to close at $39.43 on the New York Stock Exchange (news - web sites) near the high end of their 52-week trading range of $31.74 to $42.12.
Wendy's said the finger did not come from the restaurant's employees. It is also confident company suppliers are not to blame because of product coding that allows the company to trace where a product comes from, the day it was produced, when it was shipped and when it arrived at the restaurant, Lynch said.
However, he acknowledged the process was "not absolutely 100 percent perfect."
Matt Baun, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (news - web sites)'s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said it was doubtful a person working at a federal beef producer would have lost the finger in an accident.
"The production line would have stopped, there would have been immediate need for medical attention and the meat products would be destroyed and not used for food," he said.
A Louisville, Ky., lawyer who has handled similar cases said he doesn't expect Wendy's image to take much of a hit.
Bo Bolus, who has represented plaintiffs over foreign objects found in McDonald's food and defended insurance companies against those claims, said consumers tend to realize that incidents like the one at Wendy's are accidents.
"I haven't found any big institutional problems in the fast-food chains," Bolus said. "I still go to McDonald's with my four boys."
What's worse than finding a finger in your Wendy's chilli?
Finding half a finger.
That is disgusting!
I'll get my finger-food somewhere else. (/bad humor)
The DNA says it belongs to Hoffa I hear.
You mean those weren't chicken nuggets I had for lunch there???
The chili really is chunky there.
Suh, our food is finger lickin' good, but the finger stays on your hand.
Another sad chapter in the Beans/NoBeans Chili War. Wonder which side "Stubby" was on?
It's a hit. Somebody was made to disappear and they used the meat packing plant to mix him in with the hamburger.
Always wondered what they did with Dave Thomas.
Maybe the worker was someone who snuck over the border to do a job no Americans would do.
I see a fingertip and something that looks like a dog's head to the left.
(but maybe they should check her neighborhood for missing digits.)
Ever try a wendy's frosty? Those sure are good.
Odd, I was just in that very store. Looked like a typical crowd given the time of day...
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