April 17, 2024

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Store owner mixed and sold hand sanitiser that left four children with burns, authorities say

Four children have been left with burns after using a homemade hand-sanitiser bought at a 7-Eleven convenience store in New Jersey, officials have said.

The store’s owner, Manisha Bharade, 47, attempted to profit from the coronavirus outbreak by mixing commercially available foaming sanitiser with water and selling the concoction packaged in bottles in her store in River Vale, authorities said.

The foaming sanitiser is not meant for resale, and mixing the substances together created an apparent chemical reaction that caused burns to three 10-year-olds and an 11-year-old.

Ms Bharade has subsequently been issued with a summons charging her with endangering the welfare of children and deceptive business practices.

“Let me be perfectly clear: if you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” said attorney general Gurbir Grewal.

“Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences.”

Ms Bharade sold 14 bottled of the botched sanitiser to customers, but five of the concoctions were turned over to the police for analysis.

“She wasn’t trying to make a lot of money and obviously didn’t mean to hurt anybody, bu she’s no chemist,” a law enforcement official said, according to the Daily Voice.

Police became aware of the issue after pictures were posted to social media of a young boy with burns to his arm and leg.

The 10-year-old child was treated in hospital and has since been discharged, and he is expected to make a full recovery, according to WABC.

The other three children who bought and used the product suffered less severe burns and did not require hospitalisation.

“While further investigation is underway, our first priority is to make the public aware that they should not use this item if they purchased it at the River Vale 7-Eleven,” Lieutenant John DeVoe said.

“As far as we know, this issue is limited to the River Vale store at this time. From the information that we received, approximately one dozen of the bottles were sold to customers today.”

State consumer officials also opened an investigation into the sale and promotion of health and sanitation products in the store.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and anyone who bought a bottle of the sanitiser should call River Vale police at (201) 664-1111.

7-Eleven said in a statement: “The safety and well-being of 7-Eleven customers is of utmost importance and our hearts are with this young man at this time. We are reviewing this matter internally and will take appropriate action.”

New Jersey reported its first death from coronavirus on Tuesday.

More than a dozen residents in the state have contracted the virus, which continues to spread rapidly in America.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US passed 1,000 on Tuesday, and hand sanitiser and cleaning products are becoming more difficult to buy across the country — with residents stockpiling resources in fear of the outbreak.

“Antiseptic wipes and Clorox disinfecting wipes are flying out of here,” Thad Kleszcz, general manager of Costco in Atwater Village, California, told The Los Angeles Times In February “We can’t keep those in stock.”

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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