WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Two women were hospitalized after a New Zealand cafe mistakenly served dishwashing liquid as mulled wine, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Chico's Restaurant Ltd. in the mountain resort of Queenstown on South Island pleaded guilty to a charge of selling food containing extraneous matter — the chemical sodium hydroxide — that caused injury, the Southland Times newspaper said.
Prosecutor Sarah McKenzie told Queenstown District Court that the two women were taken to a hospital after drinking the liquid last July, the newspaper reported.
Customer Sarah Ferguson had ordered a glass of "Mountain Thunder" mulled wine from Queenstown's Old Man Rock Cafe, owned by Chico's Restaurant Ltd.
She spat out the liquid when she experienced a burning sensation on her lips and mouth.
Cafe worker Bethany Sim offered to test the drink and suffered a similar reaction.
"A check by cafe management indicated that a mulled wine container had unfortunately been filled with dishwashing detergent," McKenzie told the court.
An investigation showed the two liquids had been mixed up after 5.2 gallons of dishwashing liquid was delivered in a container formerly used to hold "Mountain Thunder" mulled wine.
The court heard Sim suffered burns and possible scaring of her throat and esophagus from the chemical mix.
Under New Zealand's no-fault accident law, victims do not sue for damages. Instead, treatment costs and income loss are met by the nation's Accident Compensation scheme.
The company will be sentenced next month and faces a possible fine.