A 43-year-old woman who worked at the Ferndale Dairy Queen was arrested Friday after allegedly adding a cleaning agent to a mix used to make malt shakes.
Alexandra Margot Georgia Dale was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of two counts of second-degree assault after police say she added a cleaning agent to a mix used to make malt beverages. On March 3, Ferndale police said two men reported burning in their mouths following consumption of malt beverages from the restaurant.
Upon investigation by the Whatcom County Health Department, officials determined the malt powder used to make the shakes appeared to have been contaminated with sodium hydroxide “and cleaner components, presumably the deep fat fryer,” said Lieutenant Bill Hatchett, of the Ferndale police department, in a written statement. Police arrested Dale after further investigation that included viewing of the restaurant’s surveillance tapes.
Restaurant owner Scott Whitman said he believes Dale acted in an isolated incident and that the restaurant’s food is safe for customers. He added that the negative publicity has substantially hurt business and, as a result, he was forced to cut back on employees’ hours. “It was never a food safety issue,” he said. “It was a criminal act that was very unusual and unfortunate.
“The most difficult part is that people don’t see the full story and we’ve had to cut back on staff because we just don’t have the customers right now. Hopefully we can get back to normal soon.” Whitman said once police began investigating the incident, Dale failed to appear for work. She quit two days later so they did not need to terminate her employment.
“You never expect anyone to do something like that,” Whitman said. “It’s a very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances.”