Preschoolers Served Pine-Sol Instead Of Apple Juice In Hawaii

HONOLULU, HI — Apple juice and the household cleanser Pine-Sol share an amber color, but the similarities end there. They certainly don’t smell the same — Pine-Sol has a particularly pungent aroma — but the smell test didn’t stop a helper at a Hawaii preschool from serving it to some of her young charges.

The assistant, who isn’t named, poured the cleaning agent into cups and served it to the preschoolers at Kilohana United Methodist Church with their dry crackers on Nov. 27, according to a report from the Hawaii Department of Health. The classroom teacher recognized the smell and stopped students from drinking it, but three children, ages 4 and 5, took small sips of the liquid before the teacher could intervene.

None needed emergency treatment, according to reports.

The bottle of Pine-Sol, still in its original bottle with a label, was sitting on a cleanup cart when the assistant grabbed it, the health department’s report said. Food items are not stored on the cart, which has a trash can and other cleaning supplies. Food items are properly stored and labeled in kitchen cabinets far away from cleaning supplies, which are stored under the kitchen sink, the report noted.

Television station KHON reported the assistant no longer works at the school. Parents like Turina Lovelin say the apple juice-Pine-Sol mixup was “extremely terrifying.”

“It’s very, very scary, but it’s hard for me or any of the people that I’ve spoken to to understand how it happened in the first place,” Lovelin told the television station.

The school notified parents about what had happened in an email and held a public meeting Thursday to discuss their concerns. Lovelin said she’s confident the school has responded appropriately and taken necessary precautions.

“I personally believe that this could have happened anywhere, that an individual who was compromised in some way they could have made this error in any place,” she said.

The school passed its inspection and properly stores cleaning materials away from food items, according to Hawaii public health officials.

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Photo illustration of a boy looking at glasses of apple juice. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

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