Here at Chilefoundry, we are sometimes given information which is confidential and not to be shared, but two weeks ago I received an email from someone who wished to remain anonymous but stated they are a hardened chilli head and worked for the Government in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).
The person said they had some information which they wanted to share to give the chilli community the heads up on something huge, which the Government is planning. They said they didn’t want to go to the national press as they felt this would not be something that would be given the attention it deserved, so they came to us.
It has taken me 2 weeks to verify this “whistle blowers” comments, and today I’m happy let you guys know what is afoot and the serious ramifications it could have for the chilli community, growers, and producers in the UK, Europe and it seems the U.S, who are included with the U.S Food and Drug Adminstrations’s involvement
So what has happened? Well the Government has been doing it’s homework apparently, actually they have paid for two independent reports on the subject of Chillies, more specifically Capsaicin and it’s effects on the body and brain. I have not seen either report in full but have received key excerpts from them. Basically both reports have centered on the reported “high” that we all know large amounts of Capsaicin can give you after eating a Butch T or a spoonful of Mad Dog. The Endorphin rush we all know that leaves us with feelings of exhilaration.
It seems they have paid particular attention to the YouTube Chilli Community of people around the world eating those pods and extreme sauces and the comments which are often made in those videos about the “high” people feel afterwards.
The Government is worried about the high, and the similarities to controlled drugs, which give the user a high too. These are illegal in the UK and it seems they want to control the use of Capsaicin too, and make certain concentrations illegal! You may recall that about 2 years ago there were rumblings that pure Capsaicin crystal was going to banned from sale or import in the UK, well that may have been the start of this investigation.
The reports mention the Scoville Scale (SHU) and the figure of 1 million comes up in both reports. It seems that the recommendation is that anything which contains concentrations over 1 million SHU’s would be banned under new legislation and would be put into the list of drugs controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 . This would see Capsaicin and its family of close relatives over 1m SHU’s classified as a Class B or C drug, or it could be listed under it’s newest category which is listed on the Governments Drug website “a new classification called temporary banning orders has been introduced to tackle the issue of “legal highs” or the new chemical substances that are increasingly found”
So who does this affect? well everyone really. Sauce makers will have to limit their products to 1 million SHU, extract would be outlawed, sauces would have to display an accurate measurement of SHU.
The big impact is on growers, be it professional or hobbyist. The new legislation would see seeds of certain varieties disappear, this itself would be very difficult, as with every variety there is always a range of heat levels the chilli could produce, so any seed with a “potential” of hitting the 1 million mark would be banned. The Bhut Jolokia would become illegal to own!
There is also the issue for the consumer and driving, we all know that Drink & Drug driving is illegal so if Capsaicin became a controlled substance then you would have to be careful who drives home after a meal at the local curry house.
You may be wondering how this would be enforced, well that has been thought of too. Way back in 2010 we reported on a prototype of a handheld Scoville tester (pictured) which had been invented by Oxford University, the original article can be seen here. It uses nano-tube based electrochemical sensors to measure the Scovilles. The key thing is the results are ready instantly.
The development of this had gone quiet, but it seems the technology has been explored secretly, and a newer version not dissimilar to an alcohol breath tester has been trialled which can measure the SHU level a person has consumed from a swab of saliva, unlike existing testing for drug driving which currently consists of a roadside fitness to drive or a blood test which can be refused. But only yesterday the Daily Mail published this article on new “drugalysers” to test for drugs at the side of the road using saliva, coincidence?
There are other clues emerging revealing the governments plans. Guinness World Records have gone on the record and stated in a news article published two days ago about Pauls Pizza’s Sizzler in the local paper, Saltdean Pizza deemed too hot for a World Record, that
“Our records management team have been assessing categories based on the ‘hottest’ versions available of different foodstuffs” and they also said
“Guinness World Records has decided to stop monitoring this category based on the heat of a food as the way to break it is by increasing the heat and this will inevitably reach a point where the foodstuff is no longer able to be edible and enjoyed as that foodstuff.”
Have Guinness been given the heads up so they can distance themselves from the Capsaicin of chillies, coincidence?
So there you have it, if it happens, the chilli scene will never be the same again. I am going to start compiling a petition of names against this outrageous action when it is finally unveiled, if you want to be added please email your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org
(EDIT – THIS WAS IS AN APRIL FOOL, APOLOGIES IF YOU WERE TRICKED BY IT