BLOOMFIELD, N.M. – A 25-year-old worker at a Burger King restaurant here was arrested at her home Wednesday on allegations that she put sink sanitizer in the food order of three teenagers.
Marisa Howard faces charges of aggravated battery and child abuse. Police Chief Drew Standley said the child abuse charges were filed because two of the teens were under 18.
Police accuse Howard of poisoning the three teens — Justin Harcrow, 18; Brady Gillen, 17; and Moriah Gallion, 17 — after getting into a verbal argument with them at the drive-up window Tuesday.
Police said the teens noticed their food tasted odd so they sought medical treatment at San Juan Regional Medical Center following the incident and were later released.
Standley said he has never encountered such a case in his law enforcement career.
"I think we're all pretty dependent on people in the food service industry to provide us with a quality meal, and we put our faith and our trust in people to do that," he said.
Howard was fired the night of the incident. Burger King corporate officials said they have strict policies regarding food handling and the employee violated those procedures.
"Burger King is proud of its customer service record, and deeply regrets the incident," the company said in a statement.
Harcrow's mother, Mya Donaldson, said the experience was extremely frustrating.
"Obviously (Howard) didn't know what she was putting in their food," she said. "If they had medical conditions preventing them from tasting it, it could have been very serious."