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Women order Sprite, get mould remover

Tuesday 22 Jan 2013 3:24 p.m.

The Avondale RSA has been ordered to pay $1500 in reparation to each of two victims accidentally given the lethal chemical benzalkonium chloride, a mould remover, instead of Sprite Zero.

The chemical had been put into the bottle by RSA cleaner Julie Taipeti and then mistakenly placed in the drinks fridge.

Ms Taipeti was also ordered to pay $300 reparation to each victim.

The two women who drank the poisonous substance were hospitalised from the February 23 incident last year, a birthday celebration.

Nola Murphy and her friend, Heatha Anderson, suffered throat and stomach burns, vomiting and had difficulty breathing and speaking. Ms Murphy continues to suffer related health issues after much time in hospital. Both women have said they also suffer ongoing emotional harm.

Ms Taipeti and the RSA were both charged with breaching food safety regulations. Both pleaded guilty to the charges laid under the Food Act 1981 and Food Safety Regulations 2002. The RSA was made to pay an extra $749 to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), who brought the case against it.

Ms Taipeti has apologised to the victims and says she is “horrified” at what has occurred. Her lawyer, Paul White, says Ms Taipeti is behind on rent and working two part-time jobs on minimum wage, but is paying what she can afford in compensation to the two victims.

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

The RSA has changed its procedure nationally and says it will include directions to never put cleaning products in drink containers.

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