The Human Finger
That Ended up In the Chili at Wendys-Truth!
But it was a Scam!
Summary of the eRumor
A forwarded email alleged
to include an Associated Press story of a women who bit into what
turned out to be a human finger at a Wendy's fast food restaurant in
San Jose, California.
This was quite a saga and in the end
turned out to be a scam.
On March 22, 2005, Anna Ayala said she was eating chili at a Wendy's
restaurant in San Jose when she
realized something strange was in her mouth.
It turned out to be a human fingertip.
Wendy's conducted an investigation as did health authorities and
could not find any evidence that the finger had originated from
anywhere within Wendy's.
Wendy's then hired a private investigator and offered a $100,000 reward to find the owner of the finger
According to a 4/16/05 article in the Seattle Times, Ayala hired a
lawyer to sue Wendy's but there were reports that she has a history
of filing false claims against corporations and she dropped the
On April 22, 2005, police in Las Vegas took Anna Ayala into custody
and made charges against her in connection with the finger in the
Ayala protested her innocence but the mystery remained as to where
the finger came from.
Then on 5/13/05 San Jose police announced that the finger was that
of an acquaintance of Ayala's husband and had been lost in an
industrial accident in December, 2004.
Then in September, 2005 both Ayala and her husband, Jaime Placencia,
pleaded guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted
Wendy's says it has lost $2.5 million in sales and dozens of employees
lost their jobs because of the hoax.
Last updated 9/10/05
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Woman Eating Chili Bites Into Human
SAN JOSE, Calif. Mar 23, 2005 - A woman's meal at a Wendy's
restaurant brought a whole new meaning to the term "finger
food." The woman bit into a portion of a human finger while eating
a bowl of chili Tuesday night at the San Jose restaurant, Santa Clara
County health officials said Wednesday.
The woman, who asked officials not to identify her, immediately spit out
the finger and warned other diners to stop eating, witnesses said.
"Initially she did put this object in her mouth and did bite down
on it and wasn't sure exactly what it was," Santa Clara County
Health Officer Dr. Martin Fenstersheib said at a news conference.
"She's doing OK. Initially she was a bit grossed out it was
described to me, and vomited a number of times."
Fenstersheib said the finger had been cooked at a high enough
temperature to kill any viruses.
Officials said the fingertip was approximately 1 3-8-inches long and a
half-inch piece of fingernail was also found. They believe it belongs to
a woman because of the long, manicured nail.
Health investigators seized all of the ingredients at the restaurant and
are tracing them back to their manufacturer. They believe the finger got
into the chili at an earlier stage.
"We have no evidence of any accident within the employees at the
facility itself," said Ben Gale of the Santa Clara County Health
Department. "We asked everybody to show us they have 10 fingers and
everything is OK there."
The restaurant has had only one minor health violation stemming from a
leaky vent, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Food safety is of utmost importance to us," Wendy's spokesman
Joe Desmond said in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with the
local police and health departments with their investigation. It's
important not to jump to conclusions. Here at Wendy's we plan to do
right by our customers."
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.