1 February 2015

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Spicy burger test puts two daily reporters in hospital

Two regional press journalists had to be taken to hospital after carrying out a taste test for what is believed to be the hottest burger in the country.

Burger Off, in Brunswick Street, Hove, was recently voted one of the top ten burger restaurants in the country by users of reviews website Trip Advisor.

But when two journalists from Brighton daily The Argus agreed to sample its XXX Hot Chilli Burger, they were unprepared for the consequences.

Assistant news editor Arron Hendy, and trainee reporter Ruari Barratt were both taken by ambulance to the Royal Sussex County Hospital after taking one bite each.

Argus reporters Arron Hendy and Ruari Barratt who fell victim to the hottest burger in the country

Ruari suffered severe stomach cramps minutes after taking a bite before he lost the feeling in his hands and his eyes rolled back in his head.

Aaron was initially okay but within a couple of hours was suffering similar symptoms and followed his colleague to hospital.

Said Aaron:  “I was in so much pain I was telling people I felt like I was dying.  It’s embarrassing but it felt that bad.If you’re thinking of trying this burger for a dare, just don’t.”

Added Ruari:  “It was hard to walk. I needed to drink milk to neutralise the burning, which was hard because I was hyperventilating so much my hands had seized up.”

The Argus has previously reported on the dangers of the burgers as people have been hospitalised before.

A waiver drawn up by owner Nick Gambardella has to be signed by customers, releasing the staff of Burger Off from any responsibility for its effects.

Mr Gambardella told the paper: “We do try and take a certain level of responsibility. We don’t sell the burger to anyone under 18, and if someone’s been drinking we don’t let them have it.

“I spend about as much time convincing people not to try one as I do selling them. I tell people it will ruin their weekend.”

The £3.90 burger contains a sauce made in India reportedly using about 5,000 kilos of piri piri chilis concentrated into one kilo.

Mr Gambardella, of Queens Park, Brighton, estimates the sauce to measure between seven and nine million on the Scoville scale, the measurement of heat in spicy food.

Pepper spray rates between 500,000 and 5 million on the scale. Tobasco sauce is between 2,500 and 5,000.


  1. Jonny's Boss, Ooop North

    The big girls’ blouses!

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  2. Shorthand Luke, Leeds

    I’m shocked that they have revealed their sauces.

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  3. carts

    What’s so special about this story, it’s the usual reaction I see when reporters realise they can’t claim lunches on expenses?

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  4. John Doe, Moet

    Another victory for public relations consultants everywhere. This would never happen to us more intelligent PRs. ha ha ha! Mwah mwah.

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  5. Voice of Reason

    Burger bites man!

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  6. Confused

    This just leaves a nasty taste in the mouth…

    cue wind machine and tumbleweed.

    ‘I’ll get my coat!’

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  7. Run Away Ed

    They even found the office first aid box to pose beside.

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  8. Blood orange

    how was the toilet situation the following day?

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  9. Former reporter, Reading

    Silly season!

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  10. User Generated Content

    You might even say this tale is hot off the press…(pause for laughs)

    I’m here all week.

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  11. pj Robbo

    The Argus yet again reaches another all time low, the other all time low was very recent when an experienced photographer at the paper set up a seagull snatching a doughnut with his partner on Brighton seafront, total set up, even with people walking by in the first frame, then next frame they are not, then they appear in the third frame again, the paper and the photographer treating its readers like fools.No wonder nobody buys its anymore!

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  12. Kipper

    Wonder how much this pointless stunt cost the taxpayer?

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  13. interested observer

    What a pair of spice girls….

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  14. @LakeDistrictJourno, Lake District

    Phew What A Scorcher?

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  15. Terry Collmann

    Good old Argus – can’t even spell the name of its own news editor consistently in the same story. Is it Arron or Aaron?

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  16. TheLNH

    A fantastic use of journalistic resources. Keep fighting the good fight!

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  17. beenthere

    For another insight into the current state of the Argus, read this: http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/jul/09/local-newspapers-brighton

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  18. TheLNH

    That Greenslade article claims the paper is riddled with errors because it is ‘unacceptably’ under-staffed. Under those circumstances, why is the paper sending not one but two reporters to take part in a burger-eating competition?

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  19. JP Cost Cut Victim

    What was the point? Probably part of an advertising deal with Burger Off.

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  20. Fellowhack

    If hospitalising burgers ain’t illegal they should be.
    As for these two – ‘plenty of good men on the dole’ – Terence Donovan

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  21. Fellowhack

    Just another thought – as the assistant news ed, he has a manager’s duty of care to those employees under him – if I was the nipper, I’d consider suing the burger.

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