Four German states have banned the ultra-spicy ‘hot chip’ after a popular youth challenge has led to several teenagers being hospitalised and a 14-year-old teenager dying in the USA.
The product, measuring about two million on the Scoville heat scale, making it about 400 times spicier than Tabasco sauce or a jalapeno, was banned in Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, and Lower Saxony.
Now Berlin food organisations are urging authorities to take action, after Harris Wolobah, 14, from the US state of Massachusetts, died when doing the ‘one chip challenge’ in September.
Meanwhile, five young people, who had eaten the chip, were admitted to the Virchow Hospital in Berlin, with symptoms including shortness of breath, high blood pressure, and stomach pain.
One of them, who had a previous medical condition, was reportedly admitted to the intensive care unit.
Berlin Consumer Centre spokesperson Brita Schaut said: “Food must be safe because consumers cannot see from the outside whether it is safe or not.
“That’s why Berlin must also take such measures to protect children in particular, but also adult consumers.”
Produced in the Czech Republic and flavoured with the Carolina Reaper chili, the snacks were sold as an individual tortilla chip in a coffin-shaped cardboard box for EUR 10 (GBP 8).
Aside from the extremely sharp chip, each pack also contained a protective latex glove, a sticker, and a discount card for friends.
The ‘One Chip Challenge’ created by American brand Paqui in 2016, involves eating the chip and waiting as long as possible before eating or drinking anything else.
Numerous videos on the internet show people taking part in the test of courage.
Investigations have now revealed that there were fluctuating batches on the market shelves, some of which had extremely high levels of capsaicin, a chili pepper extract.
Several of these batches were recalled by German authorities due to health risks.
The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) said in a statement obtained by Newsflash: “Capsaicin is a component of chilies and other types of peppers that is responsible for their hot, burning taste.
“If such spicy chips are eaten, mucous membrane irritation, nausea, vomiting, and circulatory problems can occur.
“In Germany, young people have already had to be treated in hospital after consuming these products.”
The Czech manufacturer is no longer supplying the controversial product to Germany. Other products are not affected by the export ban, said media.
Consumer Protection Minister Priska Hinz, 64, said: “Health protection comes first.
The decree is intended to ensure that even remaining stocks of the extremely hot chips are not sold and thus possibly end up in the hands of children.”