A 7-Eleven business owner in Westwood, New Jersey, has been investigated by police after four young boys suffered burns from a homemade “sanitizer spray” sold at the convenience store.
Since then, the owner has been charged with four counts of child endangerment along with deceptive business practices, NJ.com reported.
Manisha Bharade allegedly concocted the DIY creation as growing demand for hand sanitizer shot up during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
In a joint statement from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal along with Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella, which was obtained by NJ.com, the owner of the River Vale location “mixed commercially available foaming sanitizer, which was not meant for resale, with water and packaged it in aftermarket bottles to be sold at the 7-Eleven on Rivervale Road.”
From there, “an apparent chemical reaction from the mixture caused the burns,” the statement revealed.
Police also learned about the DIY sanitizer after multiple photos were revealed on social media.
The pictures showed a young boy “with apparent burns to his arm and leg,” River Vale Police Lt. John DeVoe told NJ.com.
A parent (whose name is unknown) posted the pictures after taking her son to the ER. According to a police report, three 10-year-olds along with an 11-year-old suffered burns after using the mixtures. One was treated at the hospital and released, according to CBS 2, while the other boys had more mild reactions.
At around 8:15 p.m. on Monday, police investigated the 7-Eleven and found five bottles of the sanitizer still on the shelves.
That being said, nine bottles were unaccounted for. Police have since sent the mixture for testing to learn exactly what ingredients were in the formula.
In the interim, New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs has begun to review the store’s practices regarding “the sale and promotion of health and sanitation products,” the statement read.
Police additionally sent a letter to Bharade demanding she keep records relating to the preparation of the mixture.
When it came to Bharade’s actions, the New Jersey attorney general was very clear.
“Let me be perfectly clear; if you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” Grewal shared with NJ.com. “Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences.”
It is unclear if Bharade, 47, has obtained a lawyer.
A reporter at NJ.com called the 7-Eleven location and spoke to an employee who insisted the sprays were safe but declined to further comment.
Police are requesting anyone who may have purchased the sanitizer to call them immediately at (201) 664-1111 with any information they can share.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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