Supercharged pepper sends student to hospital
FRENCHVILLE - A student at the St. John Valley Tech Center (SJVTC) went to the hospital Thursday after eating at least one ghost pepper, the hottest pepper in the world, according to SJVTC Principal David Morris..
At least one student from Community High School (CHS) in Fort Kent purchased ghost peppers online and has been challenging other students to eat them while at CHS and SJVTC. Ghost peppers are popular on TV and YouTube videos and numerous partakers are able to eat them without getting sick.
At least four students at the St. John Valley Tech Center fell ill after consuming a ghost pepper, but only one of the reactions was so adverse that the results required the student to go to the hospital. All students, including the one hospitalized yesterday, are back at the Tech Center today.
According to Morris, there may be up to 10-12 students involved in the distribution of ghost peppers at local schools. Even though they are legal and a person may purchase them online, ghost peppers should come with a warning, said Morris.
Morris said, “It’s a food item and they see it on TV. They don’t know it can be dangerous.”
Ghost peppers have over 1 million heat units, making them 200 times hotter than Tabasco sauce and three times hotter than a Habanero pepper.
Morris said CHS Principal Dawn Dugan has called parents and told them about their kids eating ghost peppers.
This warning applies to more than Fort Kent students, however.
Morris said, “All students in the area should know not to eat them.”
“Many local students have never eaten such hot foods before”, said Morris. “Their bodies aren’t used to these kinds of things, and they can get sick from it.”
The ghost pepper is actually a hot pepper from India. According to a 2007 National Geographic article, the official name of the pepper is Naga Bhut Jolokia, and the vegetable holds the record for the world’s hottest pepper, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The “Naga” portion of the name refers to the legends of ferocious warriors that inhabited the plains and hills of Nagaland.
Typically, people use Bhut Jolokia as a spice as well and, because of the copious amounts of sweat eating one of these vegetables can produce, the local people also use it as a remedy to ease the effects of a hot day.
In some regions, people use the peppers as a repellant for elephants by smearing the peppers on fences.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organization has conducted research to incorporate the pepper as a nonlethal component for hand grenades for crowd control and to flush out terrorists.