Woman Drinks Sweet Tea Accidentally Laced With Lye

In Depth

A Utah woman is recovering from critical condition after drinking sweet tea containing deadly lye.

67-year-old Jan Harding knew right away that something was wrong after she drank from her sweet tea at Dickey’s Barbecue near Salt Lake City. Her exact quote, “I think I drank acid,” is chilling as hell. Apparently, an employee mistook the (presumably unlabeled) toxic chemical, which is normally used for things like degreasing deep fryers and general deep-cleaning, for a sweetener, and poured it into the mixture. Harding was, thankfully, the only one harmed.

This seems like just a horrible accident, and it most likely was — but that’s not the whole story. A month ago, an employee burned their tongue after testing an apparently unmarked container to see if it was sugar. It was lye, that employee still hasn’t fully recovered, and they quit recently. Now, granted, “lemme put this on my tongue to find out what it is” isn’t exactly the best possible approach to poorly-labeled chemicals, but it points to a situation where the restaurant should’ve known to do a better job clearly labeling the items on their shelves. Lye is also a hell of a strong chemical to just leave sitting out to the point where multiple employees think it might be some kind of drink sweetener.

While Harding’s husband, Jim Harding, says he’s only interested in his wife’s recovery at the moment and not in criminal charges or a lawsuit, this is an instance where a lawsuit would be entirely called for. Hopefully, Jan Harding makes a full recovery in time, and Dickey’s Barbecue handles its chemicals with some basic responsibility.

Image via Yeko Photo Studio/Shutterstock.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin