French store removes fiery Czech-made hot chips from shelves

The store manager became concerned over children's safety when he found out the chips were part of a social media challenge. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 21.04.2023 11:51:00 (updated on 21.04.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Spicy chips made in Czechia have been removed from the shelves of a French supermarket because the store manager considers them too dangerous. The incident has started a debate in France over social media challenges and corporate responsibility.

The flavored corn chips made by Hot-Chip, based in Paskov in the Moravia-Silesuia region, have become the subject of an internet challenge that spread over TikTok. Young people film themselves eating one of the chips, which due to the particular peppers used causes an extreme burning sensation that can last up to 10 minutes.

The chips are made with the hottest chili peppers in the world, the Carolina Reaper and the Trinidad Moruga scorpion pepper. Each package, which sells for EUR 9.90, has one chip and a latex glove, as the powder can cause a burning sensation to the hands.

The company encourages people to post social media videos of their experience eating a chip with the hashtag #hotchipchallenge. According to the website, participants could win an iPhone.

François Rodriguez, the store manager of Auchan Hypermarché Farébersviller near the French-German border, said he wanted to find "new products that could arouse the curiosity of clients." But after a few days, he removed the item from the shelves, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

“We realized that the chips were the subject of games on social networks. Young people put themselves in states that I describe as dangerous,” he said on Facebook. The store carried the chips for about two weeks. “We had no idea the impact these chips could have on the playful nature of teenagers,” he added.

The video has gotten over 1,300 likes on Facebook, with thumbs up, sympathy, and heart emojis making up the vast majority, There were just one crying emoji and one frown emoji, showing disapproval. Over 300 people commented, almost all applauding the decision. “Well done, Sir. Thank you for protecting our youth. Respect” was a typical comment.

Chips are still legal to sell

The management of the Hot-Chip told ČTK that the product was withdrawn from sale only at one store, and based on an individual decision. There is no legislation in France that prevents the sale of the chips.

“As a food company, we have, of course, been inspected several times by the State Agricultural and Food Inspection and the Agriculture Ministry, which proved that our products meet all the obligations of a food company, ” the company said in its written statement.

"We are aware of the hotness of the peppers used in the Hot Chip Challenge product and have therefore consulted about this product with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Safety, who, after consulting with other European Union Member States, said this is an ingredient that can be normally used in food,” the company added.

On the website, the company says the chips are safe but adds that during consumption people can have blurred vision, difficulty breathing, and profuse sweat. “If there is anyone who should avoid this challenge, it is pregnant and lactating women, children, people with stomach problems or, in short, those who are [experiencing] some long-term difficulties."

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