The U.S. State Department has issued a security update for Mexico warning travelers of allegations of tainted alcohol at all-inclusive resorts.
“There have been allegations that consumption of tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or blacking out,” the State Department wrote in the Safety and Security section of its Mexico country page. “If you choose to drink alcohol, it is important to do so in moderation and to stop and seek medical attention if you begin to feel ill.”
The State Department update follows consumer media reports of consumers becoming ill and even dying after consuming alcohol at all-inclusive resorts. An in-depth investigation by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel relates the case of 20-year-old Abbey Conner, who was found unconscious in a pool in January at the Iberostar Paraíso del Mar, and later died. An attorney hired by Conner’s family to investigate her death produced a four-page report which includes an allegation that resort staff “serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks.”
Further investigation by the Journal-Sentinel found other tourists who alleged they, too, had experienced sickness, blackouts and injuries after drinking at the resort and other resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Some tourists reported being robbed, sexually assaulted, or being directed to local hospitals that demanded large sums of cash for treatment. According to a 2015 report by Mexico’s Tax Administration Service and cited by the Journal-Sentinel, 43 percent of all the alcohol consumed in Mexico is illegal and produced under unregulated circumstances. More than 1.4 million gallons of adulterated alcohol has been seized by health authorities since 2010, including from hotels and other entertainment areas. The illegal liquor could be infused with grain alcohol or dangerous concentrations of methanol, which are cheaper but can make people extremely sick.
“We reiterate that we are deeply saddened by this incident and that we take this matter very seriously,” a spokesperson for Iberostar Hotels & Resorts tells Travel Agent. “We would also like to emphasize that for us at Iberostar the safety and satisfaction of our guests is of utmost importance.”
Regarding the allegations of tainted alcohol at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, the spokesperson said that the company works with food and beverage providers in the area who comply with high quality standards and who service other hotel chains and renowned brands. The resort company also only purchases sealed bottles that satisfy “all standards required by the designated regulatory authorities.”