WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- A New Zealand court has fined the owner of a New Zealand cafe that mistakenly served dishwashing liquid as mulled wine.
Chico's Restaurant Ltd., in the mountain resort of Queenstown on South Island, pleaded guilty to a charge of selling food containing extraneous matter, in this case the chemical sodium hydroxide.
Prosecutor Sarah McKenzie told Queenstown District Court that the two women were taken to hospital after drinking the liquid last July.
One victim was a customer who ordered a glass of wine from Queenstown's Old Man Rock Cafe, owned by Chico's Restaurant Ltd.
She spat out the liquid when she experienced a burning sensation on her lips and mouth. A cafe worker offered to test the drink and suffered a similar reaction. Managers at the cafe found that a mulled wine container had been filled with dishwashing detergent.
A judge convicted the restaurant of causing emotional harm to the women and ordered they each be paid the equivalent of $752 in reparations. He also ordered Chico's Restaurant to pay victims' costs totalling $766 and court costs of $772.
Under New Zealand's no-fault accident law, victims do not sue for damages. Instead, treatment costs and income loss are met by the country's Accident Compensation program.