Workers in a sweat over ‘flamin’ hot’ Doritos

Workers claim seasoning used to make "flamin' hot" Doritos is causing breathing and skin issues.

Workers claim seasoning used to make "flamin' hot" Doritos is causing breathing and skin issues. Photo: Facebook

Chip-maker Smith’s is installing extra fans in a factory as workers claim they are having breathing and skin issues after dealing with the seasoning used to make “flamin’ hot” Doritos.

SafeWork SA is investigating the claims after the United Workers Union alleged employees at an Adelaide Smith’s Snackfood Company factory raised significant safety concerns about the “improper handling of strongly irritating substances”.

In a report sent to the workplace regulator, the union said “flaming hot seasoning” was dispersed across the factory production area every couple of weeks from a seasoning machine.

“After interviewing 13 workers from the afternoon shift, 11 reported various effects, including sneezing, coughing, eye and skin irritation, runny nose, sore throat, chest discomfort, and difficulty breathing,” the union’s report said.

The union alleged Smith’s failed to maintain safe systems of work and, in another claim, said the factory’s waste hall was unsafe.

Smith’s markets flaming hot-branded Doritos and Cheetos.

A spokeswoman for PepsiCo, which owns The Smith’s Snackfood Company, said the safety of its workers was the company’s top priority.

“We follow a number of safety procedures and protocols when producing products that include spicy seasoning,” the spokeswoman said.

“To further enhance these measures at our Adelaide site, there is mandatory mask-wearing during production of this product and we are installing additional extraction fans.

“We are committed to working with our people and the union to address any further concerns.”

SafeWork was considering the union’s complaint to determine whether it warranted further action, a spokesman for the workplace regulator said.

A previous complaint lodged by the union in January reported a buildup of seasoning dust but did not mention any adverse health effects for workers.

“In response to [the January] complaint, SafeWork inspectors attended the site to ensure adequate controls were in place to minimise any risk to employees,” the SafeWork spokesman said.

The union was contacted for further comment.


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