A woman is in critical condition after drinking sweet tea laced with a lye-based cleaner. According to Fox13, 67-year-old Jan Harding was eating at a Dickey's Barbecue Pit in South Jordan, Utah with her husband after church last Sunday. She filled her cup with sweet tea from the self-serve station and took a sip. Harding immediately spit it out and told her husband, "I think I just drank acid."
The Salt Lake Tribune writes that the tea was mixed with an industrial cleaning chemical called Clean Force Fryer Cleaner that is commonly used to clean deep fryers. A store employee apparently had confused the chemical cleaner with the sweetener used to make the ice tea and ended up mixing in six full cups of the powdered lye cleaner.
Harding suffered severed burns in her throat and mouth was taken to the hospital on Sunday. She was later flown to the University of Utah's burn center where she remains in critical condition and is unable to speak. Harding appears to be the only person who drank the iced tea. She was the first person to drink the beverage that day; after her family alerted staff, the cleaner-laced tea was immediately disposed of. The police captain tells the Salt Lake Tribune that the incident is believed to be an accident and that the restaurant is cooperating in the investigation. Go watch the local news stories: