Mamma mia! Flaming hot Czech chips come under fire in Italy

Italian authorities have initiated proceedings against Czech-produced Hot Chip Challenge products, citing potential health hazards. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.11.2023 12:33:00 (updated on 19.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Italian authorities have initiated proceedings against the distribution of Czech-produced Hot Chip Challenge potato chips, raising concerns about the product's safety, particularly for minors.

Dave's, the Hot Chip Challenge distributor in Italy, faces a potential suspension of sales due to the extreme heat of the chips, according to Italy's consumer protection organization Unione Nazionale Consumatori (UNC), as reported by Corriere Roma.

The spicy Czech chips have gained popularity through the Hot Chip Challenge on social media platform TikTok, in which young people film themselves attempting to eat these fiery chips, contributing to their appeal. In the U.S., a 14-year-old reportedly died in September after consuming a similar brand of chips.

The Hot Chip Challenge chips, produced by the Moravian-Silesian-based HOT CHIP company, involves the use of Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion Moruga chili peppers, known as the world's hottest. The manufacturer acknowledges the extreme burning caused by the chips.

Sold individually with latex gloves for handling the chips included, the Hot Chip Challenge encourages consumers to record themselves eating the chips for a chance to win a new iPhone.

Italian TikToker Diego Simili, who took part in the challenge, reported excessive burning and swelling of the lips that landed him in a hospital. This prompted the UNC to push for regulatory intervention, citing concerns about potential dangers, especially for the young participants responding to widespread social media coverage.

In France, a supermarket withdrew the chips from sale earlier this year due to perceived dangers. François Rodriguez, the store manager, expressed concerns about the impact on teenagers and urged social media users to avoid the challenge.

In Germany, calls have also been made to ban the chips after a Berlin teen was hospitalized after consuming Hot Chip Challenge chips last week.

Czech manufacturer HOT CHIP defends the product, emphasizing compliance with food safety regulations. However, Italian authorities argue that the chips exploit an element of attraction in marketing that leads young consumers to ignore caution, potentially violating consumer protection laws.

"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 through a written statement earlier this year.

"We are aware of the hotness of the peppers used in the Hot Chip Challenge product, which is why we consulted this product with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Department of Safety, which stated after consultation with EU member states that this is a raw material that can normally be used in food."

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