A chili grower defended the world’s hottest pepper called the “Carolina Reaper” following a report about a man who was hospitalized after eating the extremely spicy fruit at a contest.
Salvatore Genovese, who grows the world’s hottest chili on his British farm, told Sky News on Sunday the pepper needs to be “correctly” cooked and eaten to prevent health problems.
“We have sold, in the past couple of years or so, over half a million Carolina reapers and I have never had any knowledge or any complaint of anyone having to be hospitalized,” Genovese told Sky News. “It’s not really designed to…just plonk it in your mouth and eat it…I would never do that and I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“Just cook with it, make a curry, infuse it slowly take it out if you want to afterwards, and get the rich flavors from that super-hot chili,” he added.
A report released last week by British Medical Journal detailed a 34-year-old man’s mistake of biting into the so-called “Carolina Reaper” — which led to his hospitalization. The man, who was not identified, ate the pepper at a 2016 chili eating contest in upstate New York.
After he ingested the chili, he began dry heaving and developed intense neck and head pain that spread from his back to his head. He also had “thunderclap” headaches, described as “a blinding pain” that would last seconds at a time.
The man was diagnosed with reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, a temporary brain condition caused by the narrowing of blood vessels.
Genovese said the pepper should be used and eaten accordingly to prevent health issues.
“The way I always put it, is treat it like salt. You’re not going to take a handful of salt and put it in your food and say ‘wow I’ve got a wicked salt kick’. Just use small amounts, use accordingly,” he said.
The medical report also stated this was the first time a person was hospitalized for eating a chili.
Shahina Waseem, called Britain’s “Chili Queen,” also defended eating the Carolina Reaper and said the pain usually doesn’t last for a prolonged period — though she did admit eating the pepper makes her feel like she’s “dying” for a bit.
“You start from mild to the hottest chilies, you go through 13 or 14 rounds, and then you end up with the Carolina Reaper and then it does get you,” she said. “For me the pain would last an hour or two hours max. I have heard of people suffering afterwards — for me it’s not so bad afterwards, but during the competition I feel like I’m dying.”