An American man took on one of the world’s hottest chillis, the notorious “ghost pepper”, in a recent eating competition but the outcome was far from a win.
After eating a hamburger laced with ghost pepper puree, the man began vomiting and retching violently. Suffering from severe abdominal pain he was admitted to hospital where doctors discovered a 2.5-centimetre hole in his oesophagus.
The chili eater underwent emergency surgery and spent 23 days in hospital.
The ghost pepper, or bhut jolokia, was considered the world’s hottest chilli until 2013 when it was surpassed by the Carolina Reaper pepper.
Ghost peppers have a measured heat of more than 1,000,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) – more than twice the strength of a habanero pepper. Cayenne pepper registers at around 30,000-50,000 SHU.
The thumb-sized chili pepper with frightening potency is widely eaten as a spice, a cure for stomach troubles and, seemingly paradoxically, a way to fight the crippling summer heat in its native India.