Over 107,023 sodas of the 7up brand in all its varieties have been recalled in the state of Baja and distribution has stopped. José María Soto Gastelum, 35, died after drinking the soda bought in a convenience store on September 17th in Ejido de Jalapa, a small village of four by five blocks situated 30 miles south of Mexicali/Calexico. The poisoned sodas have been traced back to a distributor in Hermosillo, Sonora, who distributes in the greater area of northwest Mexico.
According to the autopsy, Soto’s cause of death was a methamphetamine overdose. Soto’s relatives say he was not a known user of the substance. Seven others (some sources report ten) were hospitalized the same day, reporting symptoms of labored breathing and chest pains in several clinics around the area. They have all recovered.
The attorney general of the state (the Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado de Baja California), Fernando Ramírez, confirmed that the sodas tested positive for liquid methamphetamine.
There have not been any more cases of poisoning reported since the incident, but extreme precautions have been put in place and an investigation is underway. None of the 7ups in the U.S. were tainted, as Mexico bottles under Grupo Gepp and not Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.
The governor of the state, Francisco “Kiko” Vega, through the state’s health agency, issued a briefing urging citizens to avoid consuming 7up products and for establishments to remove the sodas from their shelves, emphasizing the two-liter version.
The first store I visited on September 27th, the Calimax supermarket on Calle Segunda did not have 7up anywhere, though it is usually available. The store next to the Calimax didn’t have 7up either, but an employee told me they usually never have it. Two Oxxo convenience stores next to each other didn’t have the product either. At the third Oxxo, just a block away from the other two, I found a two-liter bottle of the soda.
Disregarding the state’s warning, I bought the bottle and had a small glass with my late dinner of two quesadillas. I didn’t feel any symptoms and had a normal night of sleep. The following day at 1 p.m., after breakfast and coffee, I poured another glass of the 7up and took some photos for this article.
Though I don’t drink soda regularly, I tried to drink a tall glass while typing this. It was slightly less effervescent and more sugary than I remembered. It gave me a slight headache, but I thought it was just the sugar. I drank more than half the glass and threw the rest away.
After some minutes had passed, I had rapid thoughts — I felt like I was concentrating on five things at once and had more energy than usual, but jittery. I began feeling flushed, light-headed, and I had pain behind my eyes. I started sweating. I took a shower to try and relax but still felt odd after. By about 6 p.m. it seemed my reaction had run its course.