YYC Taco Fiesta organizers have cancelled an eating competition planned for April 27 after the deaths of two people in the United States during similar contests.
Unfortunately due to recent events & amid liability concerns, the second annual Joey’s Urban Taco Fiesta eating competition is canceled.
— YYC Taco Fiesta (@YYCTacoFiesta) April 5, 2017
“The cancellation of the eating portion contest – although it’s one of our premier events – it’s more of a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have,” Calgary co-founder Cory Chapdelaine said. “It had only come into place last year.”
Chapdelaine said the event sponsor, Joey’s Urban, had serious concerns after the deaths south of the border.
“You always have to watch what the prevailing trends are and the worst thing that could happen for our charities, or anything involved in this, would be to have something like that happen,” he said.
Caitlin Nelson, 20, died at a New York City hospital on Sunday, three days after participating in a pancake-eating contest at Sacred Heart University.
When Nelson started choking at the contest, two nursing students who were there immediately began life-saving measures and were quickly joined by police officers and paramedics, local police said. She was taken to a hospital in critical but stable condition and transferred on Friday to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.
Watch below: 20-year-old American university student dies during pancake-eating competition
Travis Malouff, 42, also died Sunday after trying to eat a half-pound glazed doughnut in 80 seconds as part of a Denver doughnut shop’s eating challenge. A coroner said he died of asphyxia due to obstruction of the airway.
Chapdelaine noted the Calgary event had EMTs present last year, which was not the case in the U.S. incidents.
But he said both YYC Taco Fiesta organizers and Joey’s Urban “recognize the importance of safety to our eaters” and decided to cancel the event for this year. He said it may return next year.
“The fiesta itself is not affected at all,” Chapdelaine said, explaining the taco fest is about “inclusivity” and trying new foods in the community.
“Tacos are one of the most … they’re humble food. Humble origins.”
He said organizers will be posting all participating restaurants and a variety of tacos on the website in the next couple of days. The fiesta runs April 28 until May 7.
—With files from the Associated Press
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