March 28, 2005 — -- The woman who gave new meaning to the term "finger food" after finding a piece of a human finger in her Wendy's chili last week says she has suffered severe distress after the incident and is considering a lawsuit.
"The thought of, you know, just knowing that there was a human remain in my mouth ... it is disgusting. It is tearing me apart inside," said Anna Ayala in an exclusive interview on ABC News' "Good Morning America" today.
Ayala, 39, a Las Vegas resident, found the finger while eating at a Wendy's in San Jose, Calif., last Tuesday.
The finger was about 1 ½ inches long and is believed to be a woman's finger because it had a long, groomed nail, say officials. Authorities are combing a fingerprint database to try and find the owner of the missing digit.
Analysts say that sales at the fast-food chain have dropped since last week's incident.
A statement from Wendy's to ABC News said that the employee who prepared Ayala's food had 10 years of experience at the restaurant and suffered no finger injury.
In fact, no employees at the restaurant suffered a hand or finger injury, nor has the supplier reported any injuries, which it is required by law to do, according to Wendy's.
Wendy's says that it is cooperating fully with investigators. "Tests are scheduled this week to learn among other things, whether it was cooked in the chili or not. Wendy's continues to fully cooperate with local police and health authorities to determine the source of the partial finger. It is important to us to find out the truth," said the statement.
But Ayala and her attorney, Jeffrey Janoff, says that that is just not enough.
"I think that's a good start," Janoff said of Wendy's statement about cooperating with health officials. "But obviously, something slipped through, to put it lightly. And this is a strict liability type of case. It is a product liability case, and a consumer doesn't expect to find body parts in their food.
"I think, obviously, something has to be done to ensure that it doesn't happen again," said Janoff, who is also representing five other clients who ate chili at the same Wendy's that day.
Ayala described the gruesome discovery to "Good Morning America." She said she had crumbled crackers into her cup of chili and stirred it up and began eating.
"Suddenly I chew something that's kind of hard, crunchy," said Ayala. "I spit it out.At first I wasn't sure what it was. We started investigating and poking it, [with] other people, too. That's when we find there's something that looks like a nail."
Ayala reportedly began vomiting after discovering the finger.
While the finger finding has all the qualities of an urban legend, Ayala and her attorney say that there is no doubt that it happened.
"There's no question about that this happened," said Janoff. "There's documentary proof. No one is saying it is not true. The medical examiner has examined the finger, proved it was a finger. This is obviously not a hoax. This is very, very real and very real to my client."
Ayala says she has suffered tremendously from the incident.
"There's no words to describe, you know, what I felt, what was going through me," she said. "I mean, it is something that's -- my God, it is sick. It is disgusting. It is an unbelievable experience."