REAL LIFE

Our chips were sprinkled with poison

A mix-up at the local takeaway had this family rushing to the hospital.

Leah Clements, 23, Bunbury, WA

I’d bought three servings of takeaway chips and a roast chicken as a treat for Mia, four, her brother Tyler, two, and my nephew Armi, five.

Mia reached for the chips but after nibbling on a few, she screwed up her face. ‘My throat hurts,’ she cried. Reaching for a chip, I popped one in my mouth. A strange tingling sensation erupted on my tongue.

‘My throat hurts,’ she cried.

My mum was sitting with us for dinner so I asked, ‘Mum, am I allergic to anything?’ She shook her head but I knew something wasn’t right. My tongue, mouth and lips had gone numb.

As Mum put a chip on her tongue too, she had the same sensation. ‘There’s something wrong with them…’ I realised, terrified. Neither the boys or my sister had eaten any, but Mia was still chomping away.

(Credit: iStock)

Panicked, I raced her to the bathroom and washed out her mouth. But it was too late. Red blisters were forming on her little lips and as I looked in the mirror I realised I had the same sores on the inside of my mouth.

Desperate for answers, Mum and I drove to the takeaway as my sister Jenna stayed with the kids. Arriving at the shop, I was shocked to discover several other people were complaining.

‘I’m sorry,’ the manager said, explaining it seemed someone had mistaken a cleaning product for salt and sprinkled it over the chips. He told us they were still investigating.

The next day Mia’s mouth was still swollen and the red blisters remained in mine. Then Jenna called. ‘I heard something on the radio about what happened. The cleaning product was caustic soda.’

The ‘seasoning’ caused painful blisters. (Credit: supplied)

Caustic soda is highly toxic and usually used as oven or drain cleaner. If it touches the skin or eyes it can cause chemical burns or blindness and if it’s swallowed it’s potentially fatal.

Trembling, I hung up and rushed Mia to hospital. ‘The ulcers should subside,’ the doctor said. ‘There doesn’t seem to be any permanent damage.’ But he said we should come back in a few weeks for a check-up.

At home I put soothing balm on Mia’s lips but when she still wasn’t eating properly I took her back to the doctor who gave her some antibiotics.

I never dreamt a takeaway dinner could be so dangerous.

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