GASTONIA, N.C. -- A Gastonia woman says the sweet tea she got at a local McDonald's Saturday had a cleaning solution in it that burned her throat.
"I had to be at the salon early on Saturday morning," stylist Shawna Bruce told NewsChannel 36, "so I thought we'll I'll just sweep through here and get a biscuit and tea."
Bruce says she is a regular at the McDonald's at the corner of Hoffman and Gaston Day School Roads, and didn't realize anything was wrong until she took a big swig of the sweet tea she'd ordered. She says she felt burning in her throat.
"I immediately slowed down and opened up the lid, and as I did, this strong smell came out of the cup," Bruce said.
She says throughout the day, her throat hurt, and she felt a headache and a rash. Later, with her husband, she went back to the restaurant where she says an assistant manager told her the drink smelled like the restaurant's "McD's Sanitizer," a chlorinating liquid that would have been used to clean the container that the tea is stored in.
"From my understanding, when they sanitized the lines, they didn't flush it correctly," she says.
In a statement, the restaurant's owner Jeff Stanton wrote NewsChannel 36, "Upon learning about these allegations, I began an investigation to gather the facts. I was just as alarmed to hear about these claims as anyone would be. I have not received any other complaints by customers. At this time, these are just allegations," he said.
The statement goes on: "The Health Department was notified about this matter and visited my restaurant earlier this week. At this time they concluded that there were no food safety or sanitation issues. My employees follow regular sanitation procedures. This includes cleaning of the beverage equipment.
My restaurant has an exemplary track record with the Gaston County Health Department. And while I hate to think of any of my customers suffering in any way, I strongly caution anyone from jumping to conclusions without having all the facts.”
The head of the county's Department of Environment Health, Curtis Hopper, confirms that his department gave the restaurant a clean bill of health after receiving Bruce's complaint. They won't be doing any further investigating.
Bruce said Stanton called her and offered to pay for her medical bills, but she has since become frustrated with the restaurant's response. "I obtained an attorney," she said. "It's a mistake, but at the same time, I think its negligence."
She says she's not sure exactly what she is looking for, but will rely on her attorney for guidance. She's saved the sweet tea for further testing if necessary. She says she hasn't had anyone's sweet tea since.