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March 24, 2011

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Pizza Hut to pay up for serving metal in drinks

FAST-FOOD giant Pizza Hut was ordered yesterday to pay about 4,500 yuan (US$686) in compensation to a Shanghai family because its employees accidentally mixed metal chips into drinks served to the family, including a three-year-old boy.

The boy had a large drink and was suspected of swallowing metals by doctors, said his father Chen Zheng in yesterday's hearing at the Pudong New Area People's Court.

Pizza Hut admitted in court its employees made a mistake and was willing to cover medical costs for the five family members and give a refund for the drinks. But it refused to pay compensation for mental anguish and other costs.

Chen, a lawyer, told the court he and four other family members went to a Pizza Hut restaurant on Longming Road on August 1 and ordered two set meals, including four ice drinks.

Chen found metal chips in the drinks after his son had finished most of his and other family members also drank some, he told the court.

Pizza Hut later confirmed an employee mistakenly put a spoon in the blender when mixing the drinks.

The boy had an X-ray and a high-density shadow was found in his abdomen. Doctors said it was most likely metal and suggested regular checks to ensure no danger, the court heard.

No shadow was found in the adults, but doctors said the metal might not be detected by the X-ray due to abdominal peristalsis and blood movement, Chen said.

The family sued in December, seeking nearly 75,000 yuan in compensation. During mediation before the hearing, Pizza Hut had agreed to pay 100,000 yuan in compensation, but later went back on its word, Chen said.

"Pizza Hut not only has no sincerity in resolving the dispute, but also claimed to the media that I used this incident for blackmail," Chen said in a letter to Shanghai Daily.

After the hearing, Pizza Hut issued a statement in which it expressed regret to the plaintiffs and respect for the verdict. It promised to improve restaurant operations and staff training.


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