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Travelers beware: Meth-laced 7Up reportedly causes death in Mexico

By Rachel Chason

September 23, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cans of soda are displayed in a case at Kwik Stops Liquor in San Diego on Feb. 13, 2014. (Sam Hodgson/Reuters)

Methamphetamine-laced 7Up has reportedly caused one death and sent seven other people to the hospital in northern Mexico, prompting warnings to travelers from U.S. health professionals.

Mexican authorities have removed the soft drink from shelves in the Mexicali area, just south of the California border, and are investigating how the drug made its way into the soda, according to a news release from the Baja California Health Department and a Facebook post from the Baja attorney general on Monday. The reported cases were in the Mexicali Valley, about 120 miles from San Diego.

Experts are warning travelers to the area to pay extra attention to whether the seals on their food and drinks are intact. Banner Health, which operates 28 hospitals in six U.S. states, says its toxicologists and emergency department physicians are on high alert following the reports of tampering.

"If you notice any difference in color, taste or smell, throw it out," Daniel Brooks, medical director at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix, said in a news release on Wednesday.

Related: [How Acapulco became Mexico's murder capital]

Side effects of consuming the contaminated soft drink include irritation of the mouth or throat, burning in the esophagus, nausea or vomiting, difficulty breathing and a fast or irregular heartbeat, according to the Banner Health news release.

The attorney general in Baja California state has opened an investigation into the death and illnesses that resulted from the contaminated drinks.

7Up products in the United States have not been contaminated, Chris Barnes, a spokesman for Dr Pepper Snapple Group, told AZ Central.

"None of the 7Up products sold in the U.S. are affected by the issue being reported in Mexico," Barnes said. "Dr Pepper Snapple owns and licenses the 7Up brand only in the U.S. and its territories. We do not market, sell or distribute the brand internationally."

People who consume drinks or food suspected to have been contaminated in any manner should immediately contact the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

Related: [Mexico may now have too much earthquake aid]

An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this summer found that more than 70 travelers to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico blacked out after drinking small and moderate amounts of alcohol, and many reported being robbed, assaulted or otherwise injured while they were unconscious. Several died, according to the investigation.

Following the report, the U.S. State Department in July warned travelers to Mexico about possible tainted or counterfeit alcohol that could cause sickness and blackouts.

Read more: 

Related: [Video shows U.S. border officers telling Mexican teen to drink the liquid meth that killed him]

Related: [In Mexico City, rich and poor had little in common. Until the earthquake hit.]


Rachel graduated from Duke University in 2017 and is a reporting intern covering local politics.

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