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Nightclub fined for serving caustic soda with Tequila shots

Tiger Tiger in Haymarket, London was fined £120,000 after a barman accidentally served Tequila shots with toxic cleaning chemicals instead of salt, hospitalising four people.

The incident took place in December 2021 when the bartender at Tiger Tiger realised there was no salt for the shots, so, according to Westminster City Council, who investigated it, “he went to an unlit area behind the bar and used a disposable plastic cup to scoop what he believed was salt from a large white container which was on a shelf”.

The four customers then poured the white crystals onto the back of their hands, licked it off, and took a shot. Noticing their reactions, the bartender then tried it for himself, and realised that the ‘salt’ caused a burning sensation in his mouth.

Emergency services were called and the customers taken to hospital for treatment.

Caustic soda, otherwise known as lye or Sodium Hydroxide, is a highly corrosive alkali that is used in a number of products, including drain cleaner. Another application of it is for dissolving bodies, both roadkill and, as has emerged in numerous criminal cases, human.

When solid, caustic soda has a crystalline appearance resembling that of Sodium Chloride, or table salt. Gloves and eye protection are strongly advised when using it. If ingested not only can it cause chemical burns, but, when exposed to water (such as in saliva), the exothermic reaction can cause heat burns. When the sample of caustic soda the customers had been served was tested, it was found to have a pH of 13 – making it highly alkaline.

Appearing in court this month, two years after the incident, Tiger Tiger owner A3D2 pled guilty to four charges under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work act (concerning the duty of employers to non-employees) and received the single, £120,000 fine. db has reached out to Tiger Tiger to ask what has since happened to the barman who made the mistake.

Councillor Aicha Less, Westminster City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, public Protection and licensing, said that she hoped the fine would be a “warning” to other businesses that overlook “basic safety measures”.

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