Police: More testing needed after children sickened at Lancaster County restaurant

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EAST LAMPETER TOWNSHIP, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.–East Lampeter Township police announced Friday that more definitive testing is required after three children were sickened after drinking apple juice at a Lancaster County restaurant on March 3.

For now–the substance they ingested remains a mystery.

The investigation was launched after three children, ages 4, 6 and 10, fell ill after drinking apple juice from Styrofoam cups while at a birthday celebration at the Star Buffet & Grill in East Lampeter Township last Friday.  The 4 and 10 year-old suffered burns to their mouths and throats, and were vomiting, according to police reports. A 6-year-old and an adult in the group also complained of stomach pains. All three children and the adult were taken to Lancaster General Hospital.

Police say the 4-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy suffered more severe reactions and were later transferred to Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

The state Department of Agriculture conducted an inspection Monday at Star Buffet & Grill and by Tuesday the restaurant was closed due to building code violations.  The Department of Agriculture report from the Monday inspection said there were two boxes of crystal lye bottles in a storage area, and the inspector took an opened box for testing. A bottle of lye was found below a sushi table near a round hibachi in the restaurant.

Police say they have received preliminary test results from the state Department of Agriculture which shows no evidence that the apple juice alone caused the injuries to the children. Investigators say there is no evidence or information that the public is at further risk of a similar incident.

Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Shannon Powers said because the results are part of an ongoing investigation, we can’t comment further.

The restaurant’s phone recording says they are closed and hope to be open soon.

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