Two journalists at The Argus were hospitalised after trying a burger containing a sauce hotter than pepper spray.
Assistant news editor Arron Hendy, and trainee reporter Ruari Barratt were taken by ambulance to the Royal Sussex County Hospital after taking one bite each of an XXX Hot Chilli Burger from Burger Off, in Brunswick Street West, Hove. Mr Hendy agreed to try the burger after the takeaway came in the top ten of burger restaurants in the country – as rated on the Trip Advisor website.
After taking one bite he decided the burger was too spicy to eat anymore and was physically ok after drinking lots of milk.
Mr Barratt took a bite and minutes later suffered severe stomach pains which increased. He lost the feeling in his hands, his legs were shaking and his eyes rolled back in his head.
And within two hours Mr Hendy was suffering similar problems, following his colleague to hospital.
Mr Barratt said: “It was hard to walk. I needed to drink milk to neutralise the burning, which was hard because I was hyperventilating so much my hands had seized up.”
Mr Hendy said: “I was in so much pain I was telling people I felt like I was dying.
“It’s embarrassing but it felt that bad.If you’re thinking of trying this burger for a dare, just don’t.”
The Argus has reported on the dangers of the burgers as people have been hospitalised before.
A waiver drawn up by owner Nick Gambardella has to be signed by customers, releasing the staff of Burger Off from any responsibility for its effects.
Mr Gambardella said: “We do try and take a certain level of responsibility. We don’t sell the burger to anyone under 18, and if someone’s been drinking we don’t let them have it.
“I spend about as much time convincing people not to try one as I do selling them. I tell people it will ruin their weekend.” The burger, which costs £3.90, contains a sauce made in India reportedly using about 5,000 kilos of piri piri chilis concentrated into one kilo.
Mr Gambardella, 54, of Queens Park, Brighton, estimates the sauce to measure between seven and nine million on the Scoville scale, the measurement of heat in spicy food.
Pepper spray rates between 500,000 and 5 million on the scale. Tobasco sauce is between 2,500 and 5,000.