A US police department has been forced into an embarrassing apology after one of its officers made a startling claim against a local McDonald's restaurant.

The officer, named only as "DJ" in the initial report, had told WTHR News in Indianapolis that someone at the restaurant had taken a bite from his McChicken before handing it to him.

He claimed he found the evidence when he got to work at the Marion County Jail, telling WTHR: "I started to warm up my McChicken and I noticed several small bites. I know I didn't eat it. No one else was around. I said, 'You know what? I am going to the McDonald's to see if they can get that taken care of'."

"I went to the McDonald's and talked to the supervisor. She offered me some free food I didn't care anything about. I just wanted to find out who the person was and they deal with that person in an appropriate way."

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The officer need not have looked far to find the guilty party, as revealed in a later statement from his superiors. "DJ" had simply forgotten that he had taken a bite.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office wrote: "Last week, a Marion County Sheriff's Office employee purchased a McChicken sandwich from the McDonald's location at 3828 W Morris Street, Indianapolis.

"The employee took a bite out of the sandwich upon starting his shift at the Marion County Jail, then placed it in the refrigerator in a break room. He returned nearly seven hours later having forgotten that he had previously bitten the sandwich. He wrongly concluded that a McDonald's restaurant employee had tampered with his food because he is a law enforcement officer.

"The investigation has determined that McDonald's restaurant staff in no way tampered with the employee's food. He has since formally apologised to McDonald's. We recognize that McDonald's is a valued civic partner, and any insinuation in private or in the media to the contrary is unfounded."