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Anheuser-Busch Recalls Beer After Man Is Poisoned

November 18, 1995|STEVE RYFLE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

GLENDALE — Anheuser-Busch recalled thousands of bottles of beer from area bars Friday, following an incident this week in which a Glendale man vomited blood after drinking a tainted beer at a local tavern.

The company withdrew all 12-ounce "longneck" bottles of Bud Lite that were produced at its Van Nuys brewing plant on Nov. 1.

Ronaldo Dela Cruz Ciriaco, 35, was drinking a bottle of beer at the Jewel City Bowl bar Monday night when he felt a burning sensation in his stomach and throat and suddenly became violently ill, according to police reports.

The recall began Thursday and was expected to be finished by late Friday. Company spokesman Steve LeResche said "several thousand" bottles were being withdrawn, most of which were still in the company's wholesale warehouses and had not yet been shipped to bars.

As of Friday afternoon, Anheuser-Busch had tested several thousand bottles, none of which had been tampered with, LeResche said.

"We have found nothing that indicates this was anything but an isolated incident," he said. "There were a number of bottles of this beer that did go out on the market and were consumed with no problems, but what (Ciriaco) consumed was not beer. There was not Bud Lite in that bottle--it was a milky, cloudy fluid, which we think was cleaning solution."

Ciriaco finished drinking two Bud Lites without any trouble Monday night, but he began to complain after one or two sips from his third beer, according to police. A friend drove Ciriaco to a local hospital, where he was treated and released the next day.

Ciriaco's attorney, Norberto Reyes, said emergency room doctors examined the contents of the beer bottle and believed that it contained an alkaline-based substance, which can cause severe burns to the esophagus and stomach if ingested. The doctor who examined the beer could not be reached Friday.

The beer was later seized by Glendale police and is being tested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to determine the source of the poisoning, officials said.

Reyes said Ciriaco, a restaurant manager, has been unable to work since the incident and suffers from continuing abdominal and chest pain, vomiting and bowel problems. He said Ciriaco is considering legal action against the beer company, "but it's too early to tell if that is appropriate."

The recalled beer was produced solely for restaurants and bars and is not sold in stores.

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