Leam Fish Bar served customer lethal acid instead of vinegar

Down it fresher?


A fish and chip shop customer was hospitalised for three days after accidentally being served pure acetic acid instead of vinegar.

Ali Varvil, director of Leamington Fish Bar, a popular chippie with Warwick students, pleaded guilty to a breach in public health and safety when one of his employees gave a customer undiluted acetic acid.

Within minutes, the customer was throwing up and was rushed to hospital with corrosive burns on her oesophagus and mouth.

The employee was apparently inadequately trained and had mistook the acid for vinegar.

Scene of the crime

Scene of the crime

After an investigation from Warwick District Council, Varvil pleaded guilty to failing to protect a member of the public from being exposed to risks to their health or safety.

He must now pay a £510 fine, plus £3,440 towards the Council’s costs.

The court heard how the employee, who lacked the correct training, gave the customer Malteen Condiment Essence, suggesting it was strong vinegar.

Malteen Condiment Essence states it is pure acetic acid on the bottle, and is corrosive until it is diluted with water.

A leading safety manual said: “The vapours and liquid are irritant or corrosive to the eyes, skin, mucous membranes and respiratory tract.

“Acetic acid can be fatal on ingestion, inhalation.”