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A woman drank sweet tea containing a toxic cleaning chemical, severely burning her mouth and throat, after a Utah restaurant employee mistook the substance for sugar and mixed it into a dispenser, the woman's attorney said Thursday.
Jan Harding, 67, is in critical condition at a Salt Lake City hospital's burn unit, unable to talk and fighting for her life, lawyer Paxton Guymon said.
The restaurant manager and investigators have told the woman's family that the worker accidentally put large quantities of a product containing lye into the iced-tea dispenser at Dickey's Barbecue Pit in South Jordan, he said.
The chemical is common at restaurants and used to degrease deep fryers.
Harding and her husband had just arrived at the restaurant after church Sunday when she took a sip of the tea and exclaimed to her husband: "I think I just drank acid." Jim Harding rushed his wife to a nearby hospital.
She was then flown to the University of Utah hospital, where she remained Thursday, Guymon said. Harding's husband and their three adult children were by her side, praying for her recovery.
The chemical, also known as sodium hydroxide, comes in both liquid and powder form. The one the worker added to the tea was a powder, Guymon said.
The restaurant has remained open since the incident, said Jeff Oaks, Food Protection Bureau manager at the Salt Lake County Health Department. His office inspected the establishment Monday and found all chemicals properly labeled and separated from food items.
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originally posted by: WeRpeons
a reply to: snarky412
Any toxic chemical or flammable chemicals should be kept in a separate cabinet area away from the food preparation area. I hope this employee isn't using this as an excuse and knowingly wanted to harm a patron. You would think if you've filled the dispenser before, you would recognize the bottle and at least read the flavor label before dispensing it. This is poor kitchen management and negligence on the part of the restaurant.