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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Beware, Naga Viper. Your reign as the world's hottest chili pepper may be coming to a close.
A group of Australians is seeking world record status for a new variety of chili, a bright red pepper so potent that processing it for eating requires gas masks and protective chemical warfare-like clothing.
The "Trinidad Scorpion Butch T" chili, a mere 2.5 cm (1 inch) long, comes it at a fiery 1.46 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU) per chili, according to testing by Melbourne firm EML Chemical == taking it well past the Naga Viper British Chili, the current Guinness record-holder at 1.38 million SHU.
By comparison, a jalapeno pepper contains anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.
"I had hallucinations, I had to lie down, I couldn't walk for 20 minutes, dizzy," said Marcel de Wit, one of a group of men who developed and grew the incendiary vegetable, about eating a raw Trinidad Scorpion Butch T.
"This chili was so severe. I will never, ever do it again, I can tell you that."
Processing the chili, first harvested earlier this year at Morisett, a town nearly 89 kilometres (55 miles) north of Sydney, requires the utmost care.
Pickers wear gloves and take care to not let the plant touch any part of their skin due to the burning sensation that would result.
People involved in boiling the minced chili into puree for putting in sauces wear chemical masks and protective clothing to avoid the fumes.
De Wit, who claims one of his favorite breakfasts is a peanut-butter sandwich with a bit of chili, says that despite his mania for spice, heat isn't everything.
"It's the flavour that's first and the heat that's second," he said, describing the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili as really tasty.
"It was like eating a fruit salad that's on fire," he added.
Reporting by Pauline Askin, editing by Elaine Lies