Cleaning tablets found in woman's Starbucks coffee

Kelly Burns and her mother Karen Molnoskey say they make a trip to Starbucks at least twice a week.

Kelly made the run early Tuesday morning, going through the drive-thru at a location on I-35 in San Marcos. “I simply ordered the two drinks,” Kelly says about her usual venti mocha for her and her mother’s venti coconut mocha macchiato. $11 and some change later though that visit may have been their last. 

“Everything was fine when I was first drinking the drink, I didn't notice anything different,” Kelly says. “I got about halfway through and started having stomach issues. I started swishing it around and heard some rattling in there, went to the sink and dumped it out and filtered it in my hand and there was two little wafers in there of something.”

Karen took the cup back to the Starbucks with the tablets in it. She showed the tablets to the manager. “She was very apologetic,” Karen says. “She told me that they use the tablets first thing in the morning before they open and then they clean the machines again after the morning rush.”

But Karen says the manager couldn’t tell her if the poison in Kelly's venti hot mocha would do any long term harm. So Karen took pictures of the container that the tablets usually come in.

She sent them to Kelly, who by this time was on her way to the emergency room. “My stomach is a mess, and my tongue is numb, I am thinking the worse-case scenario. It would have been nice to have some reassurance about the chemical in my drink.”

Doctors in the ER called poison control and Kelly was assured that in a few days she would be back to normal.

“We take our granddaughter there, she is five years old, she gets hot chocolate,” says a frustrated Karen. “What if it had been her drink? With her weight she wouldn't have been able to fight it off like my daughter could.”

Kelly adds, “Nothing ... that's not meant for human consumption should go into one of these cups ever, it doesn't make any sense to me.”

Starbucks has been sued twice over the same allegations.

On Tuesday, Kelly contacted the Seattle based coffee chain through an online form. The same day, mother and daughter reached out to FOX 7.

FOX 7 contacted Starbucks at their corporate headquarters as well. A spokesperson sent FOX 7 the following email:

“We take very seriously our obligation to provide the highest quality of products and the best in store experience for all our customers. We have reached out to the customer and are working to gather more details on what took place and her experience.”

Kelly says Starbucks did contact her. The company found her mother’s contact information through her app. Kelly had used her mother’s app to pay for the drinks.

Kelly says Starbucks has offered to pay for her medical bills but she says her insurance will likely cover that. She says she is speaking out to make people aware that it can happen and she says she hopes Starbucks will take the incident seriously.

“I just want to make sure they use it as a learning experience and make sure it doesn't happen again.” Kelly says she hasn’t considered a lawsuit but she is weighing her options. “It's a shame that something that we enjoyed so much is kind of just been ruined for us,” she says.

A spokesperson at Starbucks’ corporate headquarters sent FOX 7 an updated statement via email:

"We are concerned to have learned about this situation. We are working with the customer directly as well as the partners (employees) In our store to understand what may have happened."