The creator of the viral “pink sauce” is taking on the internet after TikTok users questioned the safety of her homemade sauce.
The mystery sauce, which appears to range from an opaque blush to a bright fuchsia, has mesmerized and horrified people online. TikTok viewers can’t stop talking about the product, which costs a whopping $20 a bottle. The #pinksauce tag has 80.9 million views on the app. There was pink sauce trending on Twitter on Thursday.
The sauce has inspired memes and raised food safety concerns about the product, which TikTok creator Chef Pii makes, sells and ships from Florida.
But Chef Pi is not too concerned. “I think it’s Madonna,” she said in an interview about her product. “It’s Beyoncé among those sauces.”
Chef Pii, who wanted to be referred to by her TikTok username because she was concerned about her privacy, first showed off the sauce in videos of herself pouring it over plates of food.
Videos of her making the sauce for the pop-up event got attention, and “TikTok demanded that they want the pink sauce,” she said.
But soon after the sauce went viral, many on TikTok began pointing out the obvious differences in the product’s color. They questioned Chef Pii’s quality control and noted that each bottle contained conflicting nutritional information.
Critics also questioned whether the sauce was shelf-stable and safe to transport during high summer temperatures. Some noted that the label on the bottle instructs users to refrigerate the product, despite the fact that it is shipped without temperature-controlled packaging, raising further concerns about the possibility of food poisoning.
Others accused her of selling “mayonnaise with food coloring” because Chef Pii initially refused to reveal the ingredients used in the sauce. She later released a partial list that included dragon fruit, honey, chili, garlic, and sunflower oil.
In one of the oldest videos she posted, showing off the product, Chef Pi dipped a tender chicken fillet into a bowl of purple liquid. The video, published on June 11, has garnered approximately 755,000 views. “Looks like purple sauce today,” one viewer commented.
Chef Pii said she began experimenting with making the pink sauce in June 2021 and began posting “prototype” videos later that summer. When she opened her restaurant, Flavor Crazy, that year, Chef Pee began adding her sauce to dishes. During pop-up events, “customers would ask for it.”
Flavor Crazy is no longer in business, Chef Pei said, but “that’s a whole different story.”
The 29-year-old chef lives in Miami, Florida “food in the country” laws allow individuals to sell certain foods that “present a low risk of foodborne illness” from unlicensed home kitchens. Cottage food operators may produce and sell these products without a permit as long as their gross sales do not exceed $250,000 per year.
Food Science Babe, a TikTok creator known for her nutrition videos, is highlighted errors on the nutrition label of the product. The bottle could not contain 444 tablespoons, Food Science Babe said, and the label contained numerous spelling errors.
IN further videoThe Food Science Babe defended Chef Pia from a slew of internet backlash, explaining that the backlash has overshadowed legitimate concerns about labeling issues.
“There are enough real, known problems with this product. It’s not some real crime where you have to disclose something,” said the Food Science Babe, who did not immediately respond to a request for an interview. “It’s pretty obvious that there are issues with labelling, formulation and packaging. I have no doubt that the formulation needs help in terms of preservation and emulsification, but this nonsense is not helping.’
Chef Pii said she had heard about the criticism from people online and she was “sure” she would “100% recover from it”.
People like my product. I made a few mistakes. We bounce back from that and will build from there
– Chef Piy
“I can’t stop someone from doing certain things,” said Chef Pius. “I can choose how to respond to it only because I’ve created something incredibly amazing. I’m going to stick with it. I love my product. People like my product. I made a few mistakes. let’s bounce back from that and we’ll grow from there.”
She added that previous videos that depicted the sauce as a lighter shade of pink were “prototypes” and that she adjusted the shade to “what the audience gravitated towards the most”.
Chef Pii claimed she was initially unable to disclose that she used dragon fruit instead of food coloring before applying to trademark the sauce.
She started selling bottles of the sauce on July 1 and has only shipped about 200 units to date, she said. Her company has since suspended production while the product “now undergoes official laboratory testing.”
NBC News could not confirm whether the product was lab tested because Chef Pii did not want to reveal the name of the establishment. She said she couldn’t do that until the lab results were back.
Addressing viewers’ concerns about the product’s ingredients, Chef Pii said the pink sauce contains “less than 2% milk powder” and added that her company is “correcting that on the label as well.” She plans to change the product’s label to tell users to refrigerate it after opening. Chef Pii said the graphic designer had “messed up” the label design and promised to “triple check” the new one “before it goes out”.
“We didn’t test the sauce before we sent it to people,” said Chef Pi. “The sauce is absolutely delicious as long as you don’t refrigerate it until you open it.”
She said she would be willing to lower the price per bottle if she could work with a “massive distributor or a large company” to get the product into stores.
For now, though, Chef Pii said she’s focused on keeping customers updated.
“We’ve had a few accidents,” said Chef Pius. “You know, because it’s so big, everybody wants my platform off my platform… We only have a few requests for refunds. Everyone else is saying, “Girl, that’s right” and “we’re waiting, our sauce.”