DICKEY'S BBQ -- Employee mixed chemical in sweet tea thinking it was sugar, woman in critical condition


(Fox 13 News) SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A woman eating at a Dickey’s Barbeque Pit in South Jordan remains in critical condition after she was poisoned from a cup of sweet tea.

Within seconds of tasting the drink Sunday afternoon, authorities said 67-year-old Jan Harding’s mouth and throat started to burn.

Harding’s attorney said Jan spit out the tea, turned to her husband and said, “I think I just drank acid.”

An analysis of the drink found there was not only tea in the serving container but a mix of cleaning chemicals as well.

The family’s attorney told Fox 13 doctors said they hope the toxic chemical has not caused any perforations or tears in Jan’s esophagus or stomach.

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.

“It can cause pretty severe burns, potentially burn through the esophagus and cause some severe bleeding and internal injuries,” Dr. Spencer Smith said, who works in the emergency room at the U hospital.

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