The Pink Sauce Explainer: Just because it’s viral on TikTok doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat

The Pink Sauce Explainer: Just because it’s viral on TikTok doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat

If you logged into TikTok or Twitter this week, you may have seen people talking about something called “Pink Sauce.” No, it is not pasta made with cream and tomatoes, but instead a condiment made by a TikTok user by name Chef. Pii. Bright pink in a Pepto Bismol kind of way, Chef.Pii markets it, dumping it on tacos, wings, egg rolls, salads and more. There’s a cute design on the bottle that resembles the Victoria’s Secret Pink logo, and she sends it everywhere. The problem? In a way everything.

Consumers of the sauce report all kinds of problems, from misleading nutritional information, exploded packaging, a spoiled smell, and varying shades of the sauce itself. The chef even posted videos of her preparing it without gloves.

Not to sound like a baby, but we wouldn’t eat it.

In a TikTok from Wednesday, Chef.Pii addressed some of the concerns raised about her sauce, saying that the sauce is still in lab testing, that she followed “FDA standards” and that the misleading nutrition label would no longer be sent out.

One brave Twitter user has tried to find out what the actual ingredients are, in a thread starting here.

As soon as the negative reviews started pouring in, people were confused by the agonizing nature of it all. It looks pretty disgusting, no one knew what the actual ingredients were, and the confident, charismatic chef won’t stop writing through it. It’s a perfect storm of internet drama, but pink sauce can probably make you very sick.

In a statement to the Daily Dot, Pii said “I guess when you’re big, you can’t make a mistake, but I mean, yeah. My team is working quickly to fix the issues,” Pii said. The Observer attempted to reach Pii himself, but at press time several calls were made and only loud bangs could be heard in the background before the call was dropped.

Pink sauce has also raised concerns among food safety experts. “As a product in general, it seems like it’s pretty risky,” said Benjamin Chapman, a professor who specializes in food safety at North Carolina State University. He said there are two important factors from a safety point of view, namely the PH and the water activity of the sauce.

“Pathogens that make us sick don’t like acidic environments and like to have a lot of water,” said Chapman, who ordered the pink sauce himself to test these elements in the product. “Having dragon fruit, sunflower seed oil and garlic that appear to be raw without actually being acidified has a lot of potential for pretty harmful bacterial growth.”

Chapman also raised concerns about the product’s labeling, which includes a disclaimer that reads “not FDA approved.” Products introduced into commerce are still subject to regulations from local state laws, he said. “The manufacturer does not fully understand what the terminology is. That statement does not absolve you.”

Pink sauce isn’t the only food product created by a TikTok user to go viral for the wrong reasons. On June 13, TikTok user Deva Tillis posted a video complaining about a “spicy bun” containing crawfish and eggs that she ordered from a small business on the platform. It took nine days to send the bowl to Tillis’ address, and the fish was rotten when it arrived.

In another TikTok video, Tillis explained that the product was falsely advertised as being shipped with dry ice to preserve the seafood, and revealed that she only received a partial refund. Other food products from TikTok creators, such as a sunflower seed pickle soup, have also gained traction on social media.

Small businesses selling unregulated food online is not new, according to Chapman. “It’s not a TikTok phenomenon. But what’s different is that TikTok is so good at low consumption and making things go viral,” he said. “Just because it’s on TikTok doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

The Pink Sauce Disaster: Just because it's viral on TikTok doesn't mean it's safe to eat

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