Last week I came across a news article that grabbed my attention. If you’re either too lazy or too busy to read the article I will give you the CliffsNotes version. Basically a waiter at a chain restaurant served a customer Blair’s Mega Death Sauce, and the customer had such a violent reaction that he had to go to the hospital. Now the customer’s parents are suing the restaurant, and it looks to be the first hot sauce consumption injury lawsuit ever. The restaurant will most likely win the lawsuit because it was the individual actions of the waiter, and Mega Death Sauce is not on the menu. Regardless of the outcome don’t be surprised if you see more lawsuits like this occurring in the future, and that raises some serious concerns small businesses need to address as the popularity of spicy products progress.
Ultra hot sauces like Mega Death contain chile pepper extract that in some cases can make the sauce hotter than any naturally occurring chile pepper. These sauces are intended to be used in small amounts to spice up chili, soups, or other dishes. If they’re used improperly or in large quantities they can cause severe reactions that could require hospitalization. The hottest extracts can be in excess of 7 million Scoville Heat Units. That’s hotter than police strength pepper spray!
It is no secret that small businesses need to be innovative to compete with major corporations. Innovation is even more important when a small restaurant or store is trying to lead customers away from chain stores. Most major restaurants and stores stick to the high volume hot sauces; Tabasco, Texas Pete, Sriracha, Cholula, & Tapatio. In the grand scheme of fiery foods they’re all rather mild. If a small business wants to venture away from the “safe” sauces you can find everywhere, then extreme caution should be used to insure you don’t carry a product that could be too hot for the average consumer. It’s easy to decide which products to carry if the buyer/owner is a chilehead, but what if they’re unwilling or unable to sample extremely spicy products themselves?
The answer isn’t altogether clear. Mostly because there aren’t many options. You could search the internet for product descriptions or reviews, but a product that might be very spicy to the average consumer might not be that hot to the average chilehead. You could contact the manufacturer or distributor, but keep in mind that in some cases they’re going to focus on product sales over prudence. The final option makes the most sense, but has the fewest resources; request the services of a hot sauce expert/guru.
Great idea! But which expert should you contact? In most cases you should find someone in your area. I’m based in Texas, and there are other quality individuals located around the country. A good place to start is the MEET MORE HEAT! section in the sidebar to your right. In most cases your questions can be answered for little to no cost. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about chile peppers or spicy products, and if I don’t have the answer I can refer you to someone that does. Feel free to email me here with your questions, and always remember to EAT MORE HEAT!