Police: Chemicals in tea due to earlier mix-up

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 15, 2014 at 10:32 pm •  Published: August 15, 2014
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An industrial cleaning solution that ended up in tea that a woman drank at a Utah restaurant was unintentionally mixed into a bag of sugar a month earlier, authorities said Friday.

South Jordan Cpl. Sam Winkler said a former employee told authorities the mixing of the cleaning product into the sugar bag happened July 5.

On Sunday, a worker took large quantities of the substance thought to be sugar and poured it into the iced-tea dispenser, he said.

A 67-year-old customer, Jan Harding, drank the tea that day at Dickey's Barbecue in South Jordan, severely burning her esophagus and mouth. She remained hospitalized Friday in critical condition.

The cleaning product is meant for degreasing deep fryers and contains the odorless chemical lye, the active ingredient in drain cleaners.

Winkler said police are waiting to see what happens with Harding's condition before moving forward with any arrests or charges.

KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City first reported what led to the mix-up.

Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants Inc. said in a statement late Friday that it was an isolated incident and nothing like it had happened in the 73 years the Dallas-based chain has operated.

"There is nothing more important to us than the trust and safety of our guests," the statement said, adding that the franchise owner, John Thomson, was deeply saddened and is cooperating with authorities.

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