Woman sold toxic drink

Last updated 12:55 12/10/2012

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An Auckland RSA and one of its staff members involved in an incident where a toxic drink was given to a customer have been charged. 

Nola Murphy ordered a Sprite Zero at the Avondale RSA on February 23 but was accidentally given the lethal chemical benzalkonium chloride instead.

She was taken to hospital along with her friend Heatha Anderson who sipped from the bottle after Murphy reacted badly.

The chemicals had previously been left on the bar by a cleaner, then placed in the fridge by a bartender. 

It was then sold to Murphy who was at the RSA to celebrate her 73rd birthday.

The Ministry for Primary Industries are understood to have charged the RSA with selling a substance that wasn't fit for human consumption and for keeping a poisonous substance in a food container.

Julie Taipeti, the cleaner who allegedly left the chemical at the bar, is believed to have been charged with breaching food safety regulations.

Both are due to appear in the Waitakere District Court next month.

The Ministry today said they couldn't comment because the matter was now before the courts.

Management at the Avondale RSA declined to comment. 

Following the incident, RSA national management undertook a nationwide review of its cleaning and bar procedures. 

"It's just a reminder. It's not the first time it's happened in the hospitality sector but if you can't learn from these terrible mistakes, it might happen again and we don't want that,'' RSA national chief executive Stephen Clarke said at the time. 

The cleaner had felt very guilty about the incident, he said.

"It was a terrible mistake. Obviously there needs to be that discussion had around what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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