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McDonald's is trying to stop the release of a report examining its hamburger meat

SEOUL — McDonald's Korea has asked the local court to block the release of results from a consumer group's analysis of hamburgers being sold at fast-food chains and convenience stores in Korea.

According to McDonald's Korea, the survey's results are invalid because the analysis did not follow proper procedures.

"We were able to verify through security cameras that a sample collected for the survey was not stored and shipped according to protocol," an official with McDonald's Korea said.

The official said that the sample was carried out of the store in a regular paper bag in hot weather, raising questions about the integrity of the sample.

Standard protocol for collecting samples for testing, established by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, requires the samples to be immediately placed in sterile containers to prevent contamination.

The Korea Consumer Agency had originally planned to release the results of a probe analyzing 38 hamburgers Tuesday following public outcry over the possibility of undercooked patties causing hemolytic uremic syndrome in children.

HUS is a serious condition that can lead to acute kidney failure especially in young children, caused by certain strains of E.coli bacteria.

Local news outlets reported that of the products surveyed, one product from McDonald's showed high levels of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, also known as golden staph, which can cause food poisoning. None of the sampled products showed traces of E.coli that lead to HUS.

McDonald's products have been collected and tested 24 times by local and national food safety authorities since July 6 and have not been found to contain harmful bacteria, the company said.

The agency has decided to postpone distribution of the results until the court's ruling on the injunction request. The decision is expected to come Thursday.

Critics say that McDonald's injunction request is an attempt to muzzle consumer rights groups and prevent consumers from receiving information that could reflect badly on the brand during its ongoing legal troubles.

McDonald's Korea is currently facing a lawsuit by a mother who says that her 4-year-old daughter developed HUS because of an undercooked hamburger patty in a McDonald's Happy Meal.

The fast-food chain has promised complete cooperation with the investigation, but has denied allegations that it had sold undercooked patties.

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