Czechia halts sales of painfully hot crisps making headlines in Europe

Czech-produced Hot Chip Challenge crisps are marketed as extremely hard to consume. Now domestic authorities have halted sales of the chili pepper-based product, following alarm bells in other EU states.

Single Hot Chip Challenge crisps are sold in coffin-shaped boxes and come with taglines such as Have you got what it takes? and Can you handle the heat?

Consumers receive rubber gloves for handling the crisps, which resemble scorched nachos, with some posting videos of themselves taking on the “challenge” on social media.

Indeed, the producers’ own website features promo videos depicting young men clearly suffering after popping the uncommonly hot snack in their mouths.

In one posting a YouTuber reads the health warnings that come with the crisps, including temporary loss of voice and blurred vision.

Now, however, Czech food inspectors have ordered a halt to the sale of the painful potato chips. This comes after the Czech Ministry of Agriculture received warnings about Hot Chip Challenge from other European Union states, the news site Seznam Zprávy said this week.

Italian media reported last weekend that the authorities in the country were considering a ban on the extreme foodstuff.

Corriere della Sera quoted a consumer group as saying that the marketing of the snack, which is sold freely even to teenagers, was leading adolescent consumers in particular to disregard normal caution.

Two weeks ago the German authorities warned against social media appeals encouraging people to eat extremely spicy food, warning of possible irritation of the mucous membranes, nausea, vomiting and increased blood pressure.

Some cities and states in Germany prohibited the sale of such extremely spicy foods and the makers of Hot Chip Challenge themselves halted exports to the country.

There were reports earlier this year that a shop in France had removed the spicy snack, reportedly a hit on TikTok, from its shelves due to safety concerns.

The founder of the Moravia-based company Ondřej Šodek told Seznam Zprávy that the Hot Chip Challenge product is completely natural and contains only peppers that are safe for consumption and approved by the European Food Safety Authority.

Mr. Šodek said the target group was adults, adding that Hot Chip Challenge packaging contains a warning that the crisps should not be consumed by children, pregnant women or people sensitive to capsaicin, the component of chili peppers that cause a burning sensation.