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‘Flamin’ Hot’ Doritos and Cheetos seasoning sparks workplace safety complaint


Dec 30, 2023

Workers at a crisp factory in Australia have complained that a hot and spicy seasoning is affecting their health.

A union is claiming the “Flamin’ Hot” seasoning, used for Doritos and Cheetos products, has caused a number of adverse effects including sneezing, coughing, eye and skin irritation, and breathing difficulties.

The United Workers Union (UWU) has lodged a complaint with the workplace health and safety regulator in South Australia after interviewing staff at the Smith’s Snackfood Company factory in Adelaide.

The UWU said the employees raised “significant safety concerns” regarding the “improper handling of strongly irritating substances”.

PepsiCo, which owns the factory, said safety procedures are followed when producing products that include spicy seasoning.

Additional extraction fans are being installed at the factory, with PepsiCo saying it is “committed” to working with the union to address any further concerns.

UWU said it spoke to 13 workers during one shift last week and 11 reported negative effects from the seasoning.

In its complaint to SafeWork SA, the UWU said: “After interviewing 13 workers from the afternoon shift, 11 reported various effects, including sneezing, coughing, eye and skin irritation, runny nose, sore throat, chest discomfort, and difficulty breathing.”

The UWU said the seasoning machine is used for the hot product “every couple of weeks”, with the ingredient “dispersing across the production area”.

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The Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cheese Supreme Corn Chips are described as having a “bold cheesy taste with full flavour and a full-on tooth-rattling crunch”.

The crisps, along with Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs, feature a flame icon on the packaging to warn of their heat.

PepsiCo said staff safety was its “top priority”.

A spokesperson for the firm added: “We follow a number of safety procedures and protocols when producing products that include spicy seasoning.

“To further enhance these measures at our Adelaide site there is mandatory mask-wearing during production of this product and we are installing additional extraction fans.

“We are committed to working with our people and the union to address any further concerns.”

SafeWork SA has been contacted for comment.


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