No More Sauce in Kids’ Sippy Cups: Restaurant Chains Create Alcohol Safeguards

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Is serving an alcoholic beverage to a child at a sit-down restaurant an easy mistake to make? After all, a wait staff handles hundreds of orders in a day, and accidents happen.

Twice over the past month, at two popular restaurant chains, two kids got a little extra surprise in their cups. The restaurants now say they are providing safeguards against children receiving alcoholic beverages.

A mixup on March 31 resulted in a two-year-old being served a glass of sangria at a Lakeland, Fla. Olive Garden instead of orange juice. The Orlando Sentinel says Jill VanHeest took her son Nikolai to the hospital after he was served the drink and noticed his eyes were “dilated and red.” The boy was treated and released with no long-term harm done.

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The mother, who owns a restaurant with her husband, alerted the media about the incident just after news of a similar incident in Madison Heights, Mich., in which a 15-month-old was served a margarita instead of apple juice at an Applebee’s.

The two restaurants in question quickly started plans to prevent drunk kiddies in the future. Darden Restaurants, parent company of Olive Garden, said to avoid mistakes like this in the future, sangria will be mixed to order individually, rather than in batches. Applebee’s says it has switched to pouring apple juice from single-serve containers.

But parents need not be afraid that their kids will get sloshed next time they go to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Restaurant industry representatives say these incidents are basically unheard of.

“In an industry that serves more than 150 million meals in nearly 1 million restaurant locations, these are two extremely rare occasions, ” said Sue Hensley, spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, a Washington-based industry group that the parent companies of both Applebees and The Olive Garden belong to. She told NewsFeed that incidents like this are so rare, she’s never heard of them happening before.

Sorry, preschoolers. If you want to get tipsy at either of these eateries, you’ll have to provide photo ID showing you’re 21 or older.

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