An East Bunbury family who spent more than 12 hours in hospital after eating chips sprinkled with a substance believed to be caustic soda from a Chicken Treat store have described the ordeal as a nightmare.
The fast-food store on Blair Street in Bunbury was closed yesterday as police investigated the incident which left 11 people, including five children under 10, seeking hospital treatment on Wednesday. Some had burns to their mouths and throats.
Leah Olston, her husband David and their sons Kyron, 9, and Cooper, 4, were admitted to hospital with tingling and frothing sensations in their mouths.
"(We) put some in our mouths and thought what is wrong with these chips," Mrs Olston said.
"I told everyone, 'Just stop eating, don't eat anything else'. I rang Chicken Treat and they informed me that an employee had accidently used a cleaning chemical on the chips instead of salt."
The mother of two said she was in shock and asked what she should do and was told by staff to wash their mouths out and they should be alright. But Mrs Olston rang the Poisons Information hotline and was told to head straight to hospital where they encountered several other people who had eaten the chips.
"It's a bit of a nightmare . . . I just couldn't believe they put a cleaning chemical on it. I suppose people make mistakes, but you question how does that happen, how do you possibly confuse salt with caustic," she said.
"We've been the ones who have had to do the ringing around as to whether we have to put in a complaint.
"It's a let-down, you think someone (from Chicken Treat) would have come up to the hospital when it happened."
Two adults, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 20s, were flown by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Perth to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where last night they were in a stable condition.
Chicken Treat general manager Peter Scodellaro, who travelled to Bunbury from Perth yesterday, apologised to the customers.
"I want to say up-front and foremost our main concern is for the welfare of our customers who had an extremely distressing experience yesterday," he said.
Mr Scodellaro said the company and the store's franchisee would work with police and other authorities to find out what happened.