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Indiana cop claims McDonald’s served him tea laced with chemicals

The officer, Paul Watkins of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department told the manager what happened and the manager told him a cup should have been placed over the dispenser because employees were cleaning it but had walked away, a police report said, per RTV6.

The dispenser contained a strong degreaser, the report said.

Watkins went to the McDonald’s about 10 p.m. Saturday just before his shift, his wife Jerilyn Watkins told ABC News, KNEB reports. She wasn’t with him at the time, she said, and added that his lawyer has advised him to avoid speaking to the media.

He started out by filling his cup half full with unsweetened tea and was filling the rest with sweetened tea when he noted that it looked dark, Watkins said. He removed the lid from the dispenser to get a better look but decided it was okay.

“He filled his cup and took a big gulp and immediately his throat started burning down into his chest,” she said, adding that he called her from the car and said it felt as if he’d just drank “bleach.”

Watkins spit the tea out and told a young woman behind the counter that something about the tea wasn’t right, Watkins said. That’s when the manager told him employees had put cleaning solution into the dispenser and forgotten to put a cup over the nozzle, Consumerist reports.

“The irony of this all was that manager asked Paul if he wanted another cup or glass of tea and told one of the employees, ‘Hey, get this guy another tea,'” Paul Watkins’s lawyer, Sam Jacobs told ABC, per KNEB. “Paul said ‘No thanks’ and left.”

Watkins only drove a very short distance in his patrol car before becoming violently ill, Jacobs said.

Then he called the police station and poison control and it was determined that the tea dispenser was filled with the degreasing chemical, the police report said. While in the hospital, Watkins underwent an endoscopy the following day, Jacobs added.

Elizabeth Henry, the owner of the McDonald’s where the officer was served, said in a statement:

“Serving my customers safe, high-quality food and beverages is a top priority at our restaurants. We take this claim very seriously and are looking into the matter.”

KNEB reported that emails to McDonald’s corporate communications office seeking comment weren’t returned.
Emails to McDonald’s corporate communications office seeking additional comment were not returned.

Even after several days, Watkins is still plagued with problems swallowing and still experiences burning in his throat, Jacobs said. There are also worries about the long-term effects of ingesting the toxins.

“My husband has never drank, never smoked, never done drugs,” Jerilyn Watkins said. “This is just insane.”

In a separate incident, a family in Muncie, Indiana filed a lawsuit against a local McDonald’s, claiming that an employee mixed a beverage with bleach, RTV6 reports.

The family’s teen son says he was eating at the restaurant in August 2013 when he poured an ice tea from the beverage stand.

He started vomiting as soon as he took a sip and felt a burning sensation in his chest, he said.

Court documents filed in late January say that the family is alleging that the franchise was careless and negligent, and claim that an employee put bleach or a cleaning solution — or both into the machine.

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