Society

Woman Sickened By Starbucks Drink Containing Cleaning Tablets

| by Michael Howard
Starbucks in Hong KongStarbucks in Hong Kong

A woman was rushed to the emergency room after drinking a Starbucks coffee that had two cleaning tablets in it.

Kelly Burns made her semi-weekly Starbucks run on Aug. 30, buying a venti mocha for herself and a venti coconut mocha macchiato for her mother, Karen Molnoskey, according to KTBC.

"Everything was fine when I was first drinking the drink, I didn't notice anything different," Burns told the news agency. "I got about halfway through and started having stomach issues. I started swishing it around and heard some rattling in there, went to the sink and dumped it out and filtered it in my hand and there was two little wafers in there of something."

Molnoskey then brought the cup back to Starbucks and talked to the manager as Burns prepared to go to the hospital.

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"She was very apologetic," Molnoskey said of the manager. "She told me that they use the tablets first thing in the morning before they open and then they clean the machines again after the morning rush."

Still, that didn't explain what the tablets were doing in Burns' drink, nor could the manager say whether Burns' health was in serious danger.

Poison control treated Burns in the emergency room, and doctors told her she would be OK in a few days' time.

Burns is not quite ready to forgive and forget, however.

"My stomach is a mess, and my tongue is numb, I am thinking the worst-case scenario," she said. "It would have been nice to have some reassurance about the chemical in my drink."

"We take our granddaughter there, she is 5 years old, she gets hot chocolate," Molnoskey added. "What if it had been her drink? With her weight, she wouldn't have been able to fight it off like my daughter could."

Ultimately, Burns said there is no excuse for what happened.

"Nothing ... that's not meant for human consumption should go into one of these cups, ever," she said. "It doesn't make any sense to me."

Starbucks addressed the incident in a statement emailed to KTBC.

"We take very seriously our obligation to provide the highest quality of products and the best in store experience for all our customers," they wrote. "We have reached out to the customer and are working to gather more details on what took place and her experience."

And while Starbucks offered to pay Burns' medical bills, she says it's not about the money.

"I just want to make sure they use it as a learning experience and make sure it doesn't happen again," she said. "It's a shame that something that we enjoyed so much has kind of just been ruined for us."

This isn't the first time cleaning product has been found in a Starbucks coffee. In 2015, Cheryl Kingery of Utah sued the coffee chain for more than $2 million after she said a drink containing a cleaning solution made her seriously ill, according to Fox News. The lawsuit filed by her attorney said that the coffee "burned and damaged her mouth and esophagus, causing severe nerve damage and chronic burning mouth pain."

Sources: KTBC, Fox News / Photo credit: DAKALUK/Wikimedia Commons

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