When a Canadian man, Simon-Pierre Canuel, 34, went out to dinner with his partner in May, a bite of salmon put him in a coma, and his waiter was arrested. Canuel and his partner were at Le Tapageur restaurant and were very careful to report his allergy to their waiter. He had ordered the beef tartare and specifically told the waiter it must not be prepared with or near any type of seafood. When his meal arrived, the man took a bite and immediately realized it wasn’t beef tartare, but rather was salmon tartare.
“With the dim lighting, it’s not easy to tell the difference between two dishes, especially if they use mayonnaise. It can be confusing.”
The waiter apologized and offered to bring the beef, but the man was already going into anaphylactic shock, the worst case scenario in any allergic reaction. Canuel had an EpiPen, but it was in his car. His partner is a physician, and attempted CPR while they waited for rescue personnel. Once Canuel arrived at the hospital, his heart wasn’t beating on its own and he required further intervention. He ended up being in a coma for 48 hours. He remained in the hospital for five days, according to a report by Sputnik News.
“I almost died,” Canuel told authorities. He told them the waiter allegedly didn’t take any kind of notes or go and warn the cooks about his allergy. He had specifically requested that the waiter go and let the chefs know just how serious his seafood allergy was. Canuel alleges that the waiter was talking, laughing, and even drinking with other customers, but didn’t seem to have the time to take his allergy concerns seriously. Canuel appears to be most upset that the restaurant or waiter didn’t even bother to contact him to check on him after the incident occurred. It is unknown if the restaurant or waiter even knew the man was in a coma.
In July, Canuel filed an official complaint with police. Fox News reports that after interviewing several witnesses, they searched the 22-year-old waiter’s home and arrested him. Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions will now determine whether charges of criminal negligence will be brought against the waiter.
Quebec salmon tartare allergy case sparks calls for more training of wait staff https://t.co/ADEsqUsI12
— Montreal Gazette (@mtlgazette) August 6, 2016
According to a crime attorney, this could be the first such charge made against a waiter or waitress in Canada, says a report from Newser. He says it’s something so “excessively rare.” It’s “practically unheard of,” a police spokesperson added. Typically such incidents end up being tried as civil cases, but Canuel is pushing for a criminal case.
“The server almost killed me. I know it [was] an error, but that error had almost taken my life. My boyfriend almost lost his boyfriend.”
Canuel says that when he and his partner arrived at the tapas bar, Le Tapageur, in downtown Sherbrooke, he immediately alerted the staff to his allergy. He says he reminded the waiter as he took his order and asked him to go to the kitchen to make sure the chef knew. Canuel says the waiter never went to alert the chefs, and that he hadn’t written anything down on his order pad. Shortly after receiving his order, Canuel took a bite. He immediately recognized that it was salmon instead of beef, but it was too late, as he lost consciousness right away.
The 22-year-old waiter was arrested on Wednesday, but has not yet been charged. He was released from custody but had to promise he would appear in court if charges are filed. According to Canadian law, the court will have to prove the waiter acted with “wanton, reckless disregard” for human life in order to prove criminal negligence. One single bite of salmon put a man in a coma, and led to his waiter being arrested. Canuel maintains that more care should be given when a patron reports a food allergy. He plans to sue the restaurant.
[Photo by Mateusz Gzik/Shutterstock Images]