Tainted beer sends two to the hospital

From The Beacon newspaper in Massachussetts, this story mixes two of my favourite topics, namely beer and food safety.

Tainted beer sends two to the hospital
By Robert Burgess/ Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 – Updated: 06:45 PM EST

ACTON – A beer mixed with a cleaning solution sent a customer and bartender at Not Your Average Joe’s to the hospital last week, according to the Health Department.

Health Director Doug Halley said he received a call to go to the restaurant at 305 Main St. to help EMTs with the medical emergency.

According to Halley, the bartender at the restaurant served a beer from the tap to a customer who became ill after ingesting the drink. The bartender then took a sip of the same beer and became sick as well.

Fire Chief Robert Craig confirmed that EMTs transported two individuals from the restaurant to an area hospital. The chief declined to give information about the health status of the individuals.

Restaurant workers told officials that the tap lines had been serviced by an outside agency that morning. Halley said a preliminary investigation revealed that the cleaning chemical, which can cause burning when in contact with skin, had not been fully removed from the tap line of that particular beer.

Halley said all the other beer taps were immediately tested and shown to be clear of chemicals. The health director said only the line that caused the customer to become sick was affected. Tests are underway to determine the exact chemical used.

In his 20 years as health director, Halley said the incident last week is the first time he’s heard of such a situation.

“We’re always concerned with food problems, but to have chemical contamination is very unusual,” he said.

Halley said the Health Department does not plan to fine the restaurant. It does not appear that workers were negligent, he said.

“It appears it was an accidental circumstance,” he said, adding that restaurant workers have taken corrective action and established protocol that should prevent a similar incident from happening again.

Brooke Tyson Hynes, a spokeswoman for Not Your Average Joes chain, apologized for the incident.

“We are very sorry this incident happened at our Acton restaurant last week,” she said. “The outside vendor responsible for cleaning the lines has added additional safety precautions and has never seen any situation like this in more than 30 years in business. We have reached out to the employee and customer affected to express our concern for them and our regret that this happened in our facility.”

Halley said beverages at Not Your Average Joes are now clear of dangerous chemicals.

“At this point, we believe they’ve taken all appropriate actions, and we now believe its safe to drink tap beer there,” he said.

About Mike

I'm the head brewmaster at Shepody Brewery. I'm the one who chooses the recipes, orders supplies, does all the grunt work, and drinks most of the product.
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