Woman in critical condition after drinking ‘highly toxic substance’ in restaurant’s sweet tea

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SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A 67-year-old woman is in critical condition after drinking sweet tea at a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurant in Utah that contained a toxic industrial cleaning chemical, police told KSTU.

Seconds after tasting the drink, the woman’s mouth and throat started to burn, police said. An analysis of the drink found cleaning chemicals in the tea.

The woman was rushed to a local hospital and later transported to the University of Utah where she is listed in critical condition as of Wednesday night.

The cleaning solution found in the sweet tea is made up of 67 percent sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda or lye, a chemical that can be deadly when ingested. The solution is typically used by restaurant employees to clean the fryers.

Investigators said a Dickey’s employee mixed the chemical, “Clean Force Fryer Cleaner,” into the sweet tea drink thinking it was sugar; it has a similar appearance.

The cleaning product is primarily made of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, a caustic and dangerous chemical compound.

No other customers were affected by the tainted sweet tea.

“Is it something that was stored improperly? Was it an accident? Was it intentional? We really don’t know. That’s why our investigators are looking into this case,” Officer Sam Winkler of South Jordan Police Department told KSTU.

The franchise’s owner, Finger Lickin Brands LLC., issued a statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our guest and her family. Safety is something we take very seriously when it comes to our valued guests, as well as our own team members. At this time we are fully involved in cooperating with all parties. Out of respect for the privacy of our guest and her family, we will reserve further remarks for the time being.”

Read more: KSTU