Store owner charged after homemade spray sanitizer burns youths

New Jersey convenience store owner Manisha Bharade mixed commercially available foaming sanitizer not meant for resale with water and sold bottles of it in her store, authorities said

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By The Associated Press

RIVER VALE, N.J. — A convenience store owner in New Jersey reacting to the coronavirus outbreak created and sold a spray sanitizer that left four children with burns, state and county law enforcement officials said.

Authorities on Tuesday issued a summons charging Manisha Bharade, 47, of Wood-Ridge, with endangering the welfare of children and deceptive business practices. State consumer officials also opened an investigation into the sale and promotion of health and sanitation products at her 7-Eleven store in River Vale.

7-Eleven store owner Manisha Bharade.Bergen County Prosecutor's Office via AP

Bharade mixed commercially available foaming sanitizer, which wasn't meant for resale, with water and packaged the bottles in her store, authorities said. “An apparent chemical reaction from the mixture caused the burns” to the three 10-year-olds and an 11-year-old, authorities said.

“Let me be perfectly clear: if you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in a news release. ”Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences."

One person in the state has died and more than a dozen residents have been sickened from the coronavirus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

Five of the 14 bottles that were sold were turned over to police for analysis.

It was not known if Bharade has an attorney.