Restaurateurs worry about allergic customers in wake of arrest
Restaurants in Quebec are wondering how to deal with food allergies after learning that a waiter in Sherbrooke was arrested for serving salmon to an allergic customer.
It comes after Simon-Pierre Canuel nearly died after being fed salmon tartare at the restaurant in May. He is allergic to fish, says he told the waiter repeatedly of his allergy, and yet was served salmon instead of beef tartare.
A 22-year-old waiter at Le Tapageur in Sherbrooke was arrested, questioned by police, and had his house searched. He was released on a promise to appear in court at a later date.
No charges have been laid yet, but police are recommending charges of criminal negligence.
McGill chemistry professor Dr. Joe Schwarcz, who also suffers from a seafood allergy, said in his estimation anyone with an allergy is always at the mercy of restaurants.
"I think what needs to be emphasized here is that this gentleman knew that he had a fish allergy and he had an Epipen. Now that Epipen was left in the car. That is the problem. I think this has to be the crux of the story," said Schwarcz.
Schwarcz said that anyone who has been diagnosed with a food allergy severe enough to require an Epipen should keep it within arm's reach at every meal.
In Canuel's case, his Epipen was in his car while he ate.
Meanwhile restaurateurs are debating how they should handle customers with food allergies.
Alain Dussault, owner of Le Hachoir, said it is common practice for staff in his restaurant to question customers extensively upon learning of a food allergy.
He said staff will do everything they can to keep a customer safe, but in some cases he has refused to serve people because their safety could not be guaranteed.