Cleaner fined for poisoning

Last updated 07:49 24/01/2013

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Serving moss and mould remover instead of a soft drink has proved costly for the Avondale RSA and one of its cleaners.

Avondale RSA was this week ordered at the Waitakere District Court to pay $1500 reparation to each of the two victims and to pay $748.65 to the Primary Industries Ministry in analyst costs.

RSA cleaner Julie Taipeti was ordered to pay $300 reparation to each victim.

No fines were ordered due to both defendants' limited financial means.

Two women were hospitalised after drinking the poisonous substance on February 23, 2012, while they were at the RSA celebrating one of the women's birthday. Both women have said in their victim impact statements that they suffer ongoing emotional harm from the incident.

An MPI investigation found that Ms Taipeti had decanted some moss and mould remover into an empty soft drink bottle.

That bottle was inadvertently left in the bar area at the RSA after she used it to clean the toilets.

Some time later it was placed in the drinks' chiller by another staff member and from there it was sold as lemonade to one of the complainants.

Both defendants pleaded guilty to charges laid under the Food Act 1981 and Food (Safety) Regulations 2002 at the first opportunity.

MPI northern compliance manager Greg Keys says this case clearly illustrates the crucial need for food and beverages to be labelled appropriately and stored separately from chemical agents.

"There is an obvious danger associated with using a drink bottle to keep a substance that could cause poisoning, and doing so defies common sense."

Mr Keys has been pleased to learn that the RSA management has updated its Health and Safety Manual since the incident to include directions to never put cleaning products in drink containers and to never return any drinks from the bar to the chiller.

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