updated 10/21/2006 2:14:12 AM ET 2006-10-21T06:14:12

Health officials are investigating a woman’s claim that she found part of a human finger in a Subway sandwich — an allegation reminiscent of the chili bowl finger hoax at a Wendy’s restaurant last year.

Two health inspectors visited the Subway restaurant Thursday in Chowchilla after the woman reported finding what appeared to be a half-inch piece of a finger a day earlier, said Jill Yaeger, director of the Madera County Environmental Health Department.

The inspectors did not find any evidence that a restaurant worker had lost part of a finger, and they found no violations of food handling procedures there, Yaeger said. The purported human digit was sent to a laboratory for testing, and the incident was reported to police.

The Subway manager, Anita Munoz, said she was in the restaurant when the woman returned with what she claimed looked like a finger.

“It looked like a thick piece of fat,” she told The Fresno Bee. “It doesn’t look anything human to me.”

Munoz said the incident would be investigated by Subway’s national headquarters.

Subway spokesman Kevin Kane said the company was aware of the woman’s claim but would not comment until Madera County officials completed their investigation.

“The Subway restaurant chain takes every customer comment seriously,” Kane said Friday. “We don’t know what the foreign object is yet.”

Chowchilla is about 90 miles east of San Jose, where a Las Vegas woman claimed in March 2005 that she bit into a fingertip in a bowl of chili at a Wendy’s restaurant. Anna Ayala’s stomach-turning claim made headlines around the world.

The claim was found to be a hoax and Ayala was sentenced to nine years in prison. Her husband was sentenced to more than 12 years for getting the finger from a co-worker who lost it in a workplace accident.

Wendy’s, based in Dublin, Ohio, said it lost $2.5 million in sales because of bad publicity and had to lay off dozens of employees at its Northern California franchises.

Subway, which has more than 26,000 restaurants in 85 countries, is owned by Doctor’s Associates Inc., based in Milford, Conn.

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