A woman who said she found blood smeared inside her bag of french fries is suing McDonald's Corp. for at least $10,000.

Lora Davis, 42, said she was down to the last several french fries that came with her Happy Meal when she noticed the blood.

"At first, I felt disbelief," she said. "Then fear."

Davis bought the meal at the drive-through window of a Gastonia McDonald's on Nov. 26, 2004, and ate it at her office desk.

When she found the blood, she said, she called the fast-food restaurant and spoke with an apologetic assistant manager. The person later called back and said the blood came from an employee who had suffered a cut, she said. A regional manager later told Davis the unidentified employee had been fired, she said.

A county health inspector, John Carpenter, said he spoke to the restaurant manager, who confirmed Davis' account of the incident. Carpenter wrote in a letter last August that he instructed the restaurant manager on how to handle the situation if a food preparer had cuts on fingers or hands.

The county Health Department did not take any action against the restaurant, spokeswoman Shannon Clubb said.

Davis said she went to her doctor to be tested for infectious diseases and was under the impression that McDonald's would pay for her medical bills. When she didn't hear back from the company for months, she filed a lawsuit Feb. 3 in Gaston County Superior Court.

An attorney for Davis said attempts to reach an out-of-court settlement have been fruitless so far.

A McDonald's official declined to comment Wednesday because Davis' legal claim is active.

"The safety and well-being of our customers is always a top priority. We take this claim very seriously, but as this is now a pending legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment any further," Mike Fluck, a regional operations manager based in Raleigh, said in a statement.

Davis said she continues to have her blood tested, though she has not suffered any illness. She said she stopped eating out for six or seven months.

"I get sick when I think about it," she said.