British Tourist Dies of Allergic Reaction in Mexico After Restaurant Messes Up Burrito Order

A teenager died of an allergic reaction after eating a burrito containing sesame while holidaying in Mexico, despite checking repeatedly with the restaurant before he ate it.

Joe Dobson, 19, was with friends in the seaside resort of Playa del Carmen when they visited a restaurant on 1 November last year, an inquest heard.

Dobson Informed Restaurant of Sesame Allergy

Playa Del Carmen
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Google

The teenager, who was allergic to sesame, eggs, milk and peanuts, ordered a vegetarian burrito but asked staff multiple times in Spanish and English whether there was any sesame in the food.

His friends told the inquest that after just three bites, he knew he had eaten sesame but restaurant staff didn't seem concerned about his allergy and wouldn't call an ambulance.

The teen had left his EpiPen at their apartment but by the time they got back and used it, it was already too late. He fell unconscious and died later in hospital.

Restaurant Staff Failed to Provide Medical Assistance

After a day on the beach, she said they decided to eat at a fusion restaurant he had been to before. "Joe ordered a vegetarian burrito and said no sesame and used the Spanish word, Dobson's friend Harriet Preston said in a statement read out by the coroner at South London Coroner's Court in Croydon. "After ordering, there was communication between them to ensure there was no sesame in his meal.

"When the food arrived, it was sent back as Joe believed it contained sesame." She said he tried to tell staff in basic English that if he ate sesame he would die but when the meal arrived for the second time and he examined it and tasted it, he knew it had sesame in it.

"He went over to the bar staff, they were in denial. He could feel it in his throat. He said he needed an ambulance but the staff were reluctant," she continued. ""The staff did not treat our situation like what it was. There was no basic first aid or knowledge."

Dobson Tried to Get His EpiPen from His Apartment But Collapsed on the Way

Another friend's statement similarly described how Dobson had explained his allergies but realised something was wrong when he tasted his meal. The inquest heard that staff urged the teen to drink a honey and lemon liquid, which he did.

The friend's statement said: "He did not have his EpiPen on him. He was becoming more urgent in his requests, had the honey drink."

"He went to the apartment to get his EpiPen. He ran to the taxi and the driver was very casual, walking slowly to the door. He did not understand the severity at all," the friend said. "This escalated by the time we got to the apartment. Joe went straight to the lifts. He fell over."

"I ran upstairs to get the pens, got them and ran back down. Joe had managed to crawl into the lift and come up to our floor so I dragged him out of the lift and got the pens out but the pens did not help him."

Dobson Struggled to Breathe, Doctors Failed to Revive Him

The 19-year-old, from London, became increasingly unable to breathe and lost consciousness. He was taken to a local hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him and he died that evening, the inquest heard.

"It seems very clear to me that Joe did all he reasonably could have done to warn the restaurant not to serve him food containing sesame and even checked himself, Coroner Mark Taylor said.

"And it is very clear to me that it was the sesame in the food served by the restaurant that caused the allergic reaction," he added. "Joe acted unwittingly in eating the food with sesame which caused the fatal reaction. This should not have happened and to someone like Joe of his age."