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Utah Woman Critical After Drinking Sweet Tea with Lye

iStock/Thinkstock(SOUTH JORDAN, Utah) -- A Utah woman remains in extremely critical condition after having drunk contaminated sweet tea at a South Jordan restaurant last Sunday.

Police believe that an employee at Dickey’s Barbeque Pit inadvertently mixed a toxic cleaning agent in the tea that resembled a bag of sugar. The substance, used to clean fryers, is predominantly lye.

According to her husband, 67-year-old Jan Harding had just sipped the beverage when she immediately complained of drinking acid.

Attempts at spitting out the liquid were unsuccessful and Harding was immediately rushed to a local hospital and then airlifted to the University of Utah Hospital’s burn center to treat severe burns to her mouth and throat.

An attorney for the family suggested it was unconscionable that a "toxic, poisonous material would be in the food prep area."

No other customer was injured. Harding was the first to drink the tea that day and the employees dumped the rest of the vat out following her injury.

Meanwhile, authorities are continuing their investigation of the incident in an effort to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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