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What Belongs in a Soft Drink Bottle? The Dangers of Container Transfers

The Bottom Line

Transferring a chemical into a soft drink bottle is a recipe for disaster…or death.

The Full Story

Question: What belongs in a soft drink bottle?

Answer: Soft drinks. ONLY.

He thought he was drinking diet green tea. Two hours later, he was dead. Even emergency surgery couldn't save his life. The degreaser that someone stored in that green tea bottle quickly caused fatal swelling inside his mouth and throat.

He thought he was drinking a soda. Less than three agonizing weeks later, the eight-year-old boy was dead. The "soda" was a weed killer that slowly and relentlessly damaged the child's lungs. There were no treatments that could save his life.

These are recent true stories. But, stories like these could go on for pages…

No matter how busy you are, there is ALWAYS time to store a product safely.

  • NEVER transfer something from its original container to a food or beverage container.
  • ALWAYS store products in their original containers.
  • ALWAYS store food, beverages, and medicines in a different place from chemicals and cleaning products. It is too easy to make a mistake.

And ALWAYS call Poison Control right away if anyone swallows the wrong thing. The 24-hour number is 1-800-222-1222. You can also check the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool for help. 

Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
Clinical Toxicologist


Call 1-800-222-1222 or

HELP ME online

Prevention Tips

ALWAYS store products in their original containers.

This Really Happened

An emergency physician called Poison Control about an elderly woman. She drank 8 ounces of a hand dishwashing liquid that had been placed in a soft drink bottle. The patient vomited and was having trouble breathing. Her family called 911. When the ambulance arrived the paramedics placed a breathing tube and gave her oxygen. The patient was admitted to intensive care. A chest x-ray revealed that she had aspirated (inhaled a foreign substance into the respiratory tract) the dishwashing liquid into her lungs and that she had pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs). She remained on a ventilator, sedated, for several days. During a follow-up call from Poison Control to the hospital, it was discovered that her family also stored multiple cleaning substances in nutritional shake bottles. The patient remained in the hospital for two weeks.