EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 9, 2006

Woman claims razor blade was in iced tea mix

By Rebecca Correa

LONDONDERRY - Mary Estabrook was celebrating the fact that her three children were heading back to school last week and scrambling to make a batch of iced tea for a breakfast with friends when she said she felt something funny.

"At first, I was shocked," Estabrook said. "I just opened the tin seal and it was fine, but then I poked around for the scoop and felt something with my finger."

That something turned out to be a 2-inch razor blade inside the container of wild raspberry Lipton iced tea mix she had purchased a week earlier.

Estabrook, who said she routinely buys the iced tea mix at Shaw's on Route 102 (Nashua Road), said she went to the store the next day to show them what she found.

Spokeswoman Judy Chong of Shaw's corporate headquarters said that within a day of Estabrook returning to the store, all of that product was pulled from the shelves of the Londonderry Shaw's.

Yesterday, Chong said the company is working closely with Lipton, which is launching its own investigation, but the company would not consider yanking the mix from all of the store's shelves until the investigation is complete.

Estabrook worries that more people - who have the product with an expiration date of Nov. 15, 2007 - could find a surprise in their iced tea.

"I don't know where (the razor) has been or why it's in there," she said. "You don't know if it's a disgruntled employee and they could've put 20 of them in cans."

Representatives from Lipton and the Food and Drug Administration did not return phone calls yesterday.

Estabrook said she hopes the investigation is a speedy one and recommends anyone who has the iced tea in their home to simply throw it out or, at the very least, sift through the powdered mix.

"Obviously, it's not Shaw's fault, I mean this thing was sealed," she said. "But by the time they do something, they could sell hundreds of these products and who knows what else is in them?"

Estabrook said she spoke with a representative from Lipton and was told a courier would arrive at her home today to pick up the 10-ounce canister - which still has a razor blade sitting on top of the pink powdered mix.

"(Lipton) was concerned. They said they'd send me gifts and gift certificates, and I'm thinking, 'I'm not looking for anything free,'" she said. "The fact that (the blade) was in the top quarter of the can and that my finger could've been cut is something people should know about."

Estabrook said she was shocked for the first hour after her discovery but didn't realize the danger of the situation until nine neighborhood mothers joined her for the previously planned breakfast. She said the group had coffee and hot tea instead - and she was not scared until she realized her children could have discovered the blade in the drink mix and cut themselves, or worse, made a pitcher of iced tea with a razor blade in it.

"A screw or something would be scary, but this is even scarier to find. You just never think it's going to happen to you," she said.

Estabrook said she hasn't bought instant iced tea since her discovery, but if she ever does again, she would sift through the powder before she let anyone drink it.