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August 25, 2014, Monday, 05:33 GMT | 00:33 EST | 09:03 IST | 11:33 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders

Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants Inc., a Dallas-based chain, located in South Jordan, Utah - a Salt Lake City suburb - has had at least two incidents of poisoning by the incorrect use of a highly toxic chemical cleaner mixed with sugar, by negligent employees.

Jan Harding, a 67 year old retired kindergarten teacher from Sandy, Utah, suffered deep burns in her upper esophagus after taking a sip of sweetened iced tea at Dickey's, that was laced with a highly toxic chemical cleaning compound. Harding drank tea on August 10 from one of the restaurant's yellow refillable cups, that frequent customers use. She was in critical condition for a week after the incident. Earlier in the day on August 10, a Dickey's employee put six scoops from a container of poisoned sugar into the iced-tea dispenser, that led to the poisoning of Harding.

On July 5, an employee of Dickey's burned herself on the same substance after she stuck her finger into a sugar container to test if it had any of the chemical cleaner in it and then licked her finger. The employee's tongue started to bleed and blisters formed. The employee is still not back to normal after the poisoning.

The toxic chemical first got in the sugar container when a different Dickey's employee attempted to top off the sugar bucket by pouring in the cleaning compound - which they thought was sugar. The chemical cleaning compound looks like sugar but is meant for degreasing deep fryers and contains the odorless chemical lye.

Paxton Guymon, attorney for Jan Harding uncovered the fact that she was the second victim of the poisoning during his investigation into what led to the laced tea incident. Guymon said, "To me it means that the company was on notice that there was a hazardous substance that wasn't properly labeled, that wasn't properly controlled. And that things should have and could have been done to prevent my client, Mrs. Harding, from being injured."

Guymon added that doctors have yet to determine if Harding will have long-term health problems from the poisoning and have not yet determined when she'll be allowed to go home. Jim Harding, Jan's husband, said she is recovering but continues to suffer from nightmares as she relives the horrible incident. Jim Harding said of his wife, "Her memory is taking that sip and, her mouth and throat being on fire and spitting and gagging and doing everything she could to get that out of her mouth. I'm concerned for her because it scares her." As for the recovery of Jan, her husband said she is speaking, walking around a bit and trying to drink liquids to test her badly burned throat.

Jim, a 66-year-old retired Baptist pastor, said he is not upset or seeking vengeance for what happened and said he feels sad for everyone involved. He said he is solely focused on his wife's recovery, not criminal charges or lawsuits. Jim said he hopes this incident leads to restaurants taking more precautions and said, "People's lives are in your hands. Be careful."

Prosecutors in Salt Lake County are reviewing findings of the police investigation but have not yet determined whether charges will be filed.

Dickey's issued a statement last week that what happened to Harding was an isolated incident and nothing like it had happened in the 73 years of their operation. The company however, had no comment on the new allegations of more than one person being a victim of the chemical poisoning.