Oct. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. fast-food giant McDonald's is under fire in South Korea after photos of moldy beef patties were aired on local television.
Korean activist mothers took to the streets on Tuesday to protest McDonald's alleged violation of food sanitation laws, local news services Seoul Shinmun and News 1 reported.
McDonald's Korea first came under scrutiny in 2017 when a woman, Choe Eun-ju, complained the fast-food chain had served her daughter an unhappy meal in 2016: an undercooked patty that permanently damaged her kidneys due to hemolytic-uremic syndrome.
The incident has riled South Korean parents who are concerned about food safety.
On Tuesday at the McDonald's location outside Seoul City Hall, Choe told reporters her family is still dealing with the lasting effects of the disease.
"You have no idea how much I cried while appeasing my child," Choe said. The activist said her daughter has "apologized" for "wanting to eat a burger" and that the child is blaming herself for the incident, according to Seoul Shinmun.
South Korean prosecutors began to investigate McDonald's in 2017, but based on "lack of evidence" did not indict McDonald's for the undercooked meat, charging the patty vendor instead with violations, the report said.
Activists say South Korean prosecutors need to charge McDonald's for violations.
The most recent wave of controversy began after anonymous sources provided local network JTBC with photographs of moldy beef patties being used to cook meals at an undisclosed McDonald's Korea location.
McDonald's Korea issued a statement on Tuesday, saying that while they are taking the allegations seriously, they cannot rule out an external whistle-blower, or a third party.
McDonald's Korea also said Tuesday the photos could have been staged.
News 1 reported other families who were affected by contaminated food at McDonald's never received a direct apology or received support for promised medical expenses.