A Restaurant Nearly Killed a Grandmother With Toxic Sweet Tea

Dickey's Barbecue Pit
Dickey's Barbecue Pit Photo: Dickey's

A 67-year-old Utah woman is in critical condition after drinking sweet tea at a Dickey’s Barbecue Pit that had accidentally been mixed with lye, a chemical used to degrease Dickey’s deep fryers. The restaurant is cooperating with the investigation, but evidence indicates that a careless employee mistook lye for sugar when preparing the beverage. Jan Harding filled her cup from the self-serve dispenser, took a swig, then told her husband she “just drank acid.” The concoction resulted in horrifying chemical burns; the AP reports she’s “unable to talk and fighting for her life” in a Salt Lake City hospital’s burn unit. “It’s disturbing that this kind of toxic, poisonous material would be in the food prep area,” her attorney says. Although the unnamed employee poisoned a whole vat’s worth, the store says it’s unaware, thankfully, of anyone else who consumed it. [Tribune, AP]