Even if you aren’t on TikTok, you have probably heard of the famous ‘pink sauce’ controversy taking the internet by storm. And when I saw Pepto Bismol colored pink sauce being added to everything from tacos to chicken, I knew I had to learn more about what this sauce was, why everyone was talking about it, and if the famous pink sauce as actually healthy and safe to eat.
So, after a lot of investigating, here’s everything you need to know about the nutrition and safety of the viral pink sauce.
What is the TikTok famous pink sauce?
Ok so here’s the deal. About a year ago, a chef in Miami who goes by the username Chef Pii on TikTok shared a video showing her dipping a chicken tender into a bowl of hot pink sauce and eating it. Naturally, the internet was intrigued. And who can blame them, it does look like she’s eating chicken dipped in wet paint. Later videos show the sauce being called edible and all natural. Then in June, a video showcasing the pink sauce in a labeled bottle for retail went viral. And that’s when things got interesting. Videos started popping up all over TikTok of users adding the pink sauce to their food. Which should be great for business…but it wasn’t. Because other videos and comments questioning the safety of the sauce started going viral at the same time. And that’s where the real controversy started.
Is it healthy?
When it comes to food, it is important to remember that nutritional value of food and food safety are two very different things. If you look at the ingredients listed for the pink sauce, you can see that the pink color comes from the addition of dragon fruit (also known as pitaya). And that makes sense- I’ve used the hot pink color of dragon fruit to make some very fun colored smoothies and popsicles before – so adding it into a sauce is a pretty clever idea. But it is hard to know exactly what the full ingredient list is. On the company’s website, it just shows an infographic (not a traditional Nutrition Facts panel) of the fruit along with honey, sunflower seed oil, garlic, and chili. However, it has been reported that an earlier label showed a more complete ingredient list including milk along with lemon juice and citric acid.
If you want to know if the pink sauce is healthy, that answer is based on the ingredients it contains. A combination of fruit, seasonings, plant-based oil, and a bit of honey as a sweetener is a recipe I can get behind. Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants and this sauce most likely contains less added sugar than condiments such as barbeque sauce and ketchup.
But nutrition content isn’t everything. Food safety is also important….VERY important. And here’s where the big concern comes from.
Is pink sauce safe to eat?
When you look at the ingredients used to make this sauce, some of them are perishable and require proper refrigeration. From video testimonials of those who have ordered the sauce, it appears it was shipped in bags or boxes without refrigeration and possibly exposed to high temperatures during shipping. When that occurs, there is a potential change of food borne illness which can be dangerous, especially for individuals with compromised health.
Generally, with food products, the manufacturer needs to follow specific regulations to ensure food is packaged, stored, and shipped in a way that will not expose the food to contamination or spoiling. But there is no information on the company website that shares where and how the pink sauce is manufactured, stored, and shipped. From recent videos, it sounds like the brand is taking steps to better ensure the food safety of the product, but I personally wouldn’t take the risk without knowing all the facts. And since the sauce is sold out right now, I couldn’t purchase it even if I wanted to.
Should you try the sauce?
If you really, really want to add hot pink ooze to your food (and I know my 3-year-old would love to) here’s what I recommend. I wouldn’t purchase this from the viral TikTok brand until food safety concerns and transparency about the ingredient list and manufacturing are disclosed. And even then, $20 a bottle is a pretty steep price for a condiment you don’t know for sure you’ll like. Instead, try making your own. Pick up a fresh dragon fruit. Or even easier, buy the frozen dragon fruit often sold for making smoothies. Then blend it up with some of your favorite seasonings and spices, a dash of honey, and a splash of milk (or Greek yogurt for a thicker consistency). And bam – your own homemade pink sauce you can refrigerate and enjoy on demand without the social media controversy.