‘They Accused Me of Poisoning the Nation:’ Chef Pii’s Viral Pink Sauce Has Turned Into a TikTok Nightmare

A screenshot from Chef Pii's YouTube live.

A screenshot from Chef Pii’s YouTube live.

Chef Pii says the truth will come out.

“They accused me of poisoning a nation,” Pii told Motherboard of the craze surrounding her viral Pink Sauce. “[I’m] having to deal with the backlash from a mistake that I didn’t even make.”

Chef Pii said she’s tired of being attacked for the sauce, which she sells at $20 a bottle on her website. She has gotten flack for shipping what some believe to be a perishable item via ground shipping and without protective packaging. The Internet has had a field day with it. One person seemingly faked his own death, and attributed it to the sauce.

“Someone literally lied about dying,” Pii said. “And he called it a social experiment and smirked while he apologized. The apology wasn’t genuine. Not only did it affect my business, but my children had seen that video before I saw that. So, I had to come home to my child thinking that I had killed somebody. I’m like, ‘What?'”

“I’ve been to therapy, thank God, I’ve practiced healthy mental exercises, however, now it’s affecting my children—I’m not tolerating it anymore,” she added. “I know I’m not doing anything wrong behind closed doors. They can’t bully me.”

The subreddit called /r/PinkSauceSnark has more than 300 members, and is essentially dedicated to proving that Pink Sauce can make people sick, with the risk of botulism being a favorite accusation.

Chef Pii, who is a private chef in Miami, went viral again Tuesday after she went live on YouTube and said she was working with a laboratory and the FDA to prove her sauce is safe. She told Motherboard that all of the attention has been “overwhelming,” and said that she has an attorney.

“The F, f’ing, DA, federal, came to my business yesterday,” Chef Pii said. “I am 100% compliant, I’m abiding with the FDA.”

She says that the FDA is just helping her to straighten out any bumps in the road. “I’m not in trouble. I’m not going to jail,” she said. “Nobody can accuse the Pink Sauce of anything going forward.”

Contacted by Motherboard, an FDA spokesperson repeatedly declined to give specifics about any contact it’d had with Pii, nor any complaints the agency had received.“As a general matter, food producers are required to follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement. “The FDA evaluates these practices to ensure that companies are in compliance, but ultimately it is a company’s responsibility to produce a safe food product.”

“This is all the information I am able to share at this time,” the spokesperson said when specifically asked about Pii.

Have you had an experience with Pink Sauce that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. You can contact Jules Roscoe at jules.roscoe@vice.com.

A TikTok live Chef Pii streamed July 21, went viral on Twitter after she denied knowing what the FDA was. “What do you mean, FDA approved?,” she says during the stream. “I don’t sell medical products. The Pink Sauce don’t contribute to your health, I never said that.”

Though the F in FDA does stand for “food,” it’s not necessary for every product to be FDA approved. Cottage food laws exist in most states to allow entrepreneurs to start selling their product without having to invest in a commercial kitchen. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services states on its website, “Florida law allows individuals to use their unlicensed home kitchens to produce for sale certain foods that present a low risk of foodborne illness.”

Regardless, Chef Pii told Motherboard that she does prepare the sauce in a commercial kitchen, and said that the sauce is a big hit with her kids and people in her neighborhood.

“They love it,” she said of her kids. “I’ve tried it with the kids in my neighborhood, took it to my son’s best friend’s birthday party. The kids and the adults love it. The genuine reviews of the pink sauce—I’m not trying to get clout or not trying to have a bad intent—they’re still eating the sauce. They have zero problems with the sauce … they’re not complaining about bowel movements being bad or anything. I’m going to continue.”

On the Pink Sauce website, Chef Pii lists some of those foods as ingredients in the sauce. But she told us in the interview Pink Sauce has “no raw garlic content. So, I don’t know how people are getting [botulism] from Pink Sauce.”

“It’s natural food, it’s natural coloring, you know? So beat me down because I don’t want to poison the nation, they accused me of poisoning the nation,” she said. “They ridiculed Jesus, so who among us?”

Chef Pii declined to tell us what the sauce’s ingredients are. “At this point, I’m not willing to share because the FDA and also any food and health department have received so many annoyances. I don’t even want to talk about it,” she said.

Some have been begging Chef Pii to get the sauce tested. One person, Holley Stevenson, said in a video that they ordered the sauce with the intent of sending it to a lab to be tested. Their order was then refunded to them. “I’m not sure if she saw the comments saying that I was going to be sending it off to be tested, but I was refunded nonetheless,” Holley says in the video. “But that’s not going to stop us!”

Chef Pii told Motherboard that she had sent the sauce to be tested, and that the results would be available within the next two weeks. “All the lies will soon come to an end as soon as we receive our results from the lab,” she said.

Chef Pii first posted the sauce around June 20th. She had made the recipe before for a restaurant she ran in 2021, she said, but the sauce instantly blew up on the platform.

“I didn’t really take anything serious at first,” she said. “I was like, this a bunch of kids. I’m not about to pay this no mind, I’m not about to entertain this. By me not responding, it allowed them to create their own scenario of everything that was going on.”

But since then, the controversy has exploded. People claim to have gotten sick from eating the sauce, either due to the ingredients or to the sauce going bad during ground shipping in a heat wave. One guy on TikTok even faked his death, and then posted an apology video claiming it was a misinformation “social experiment.” (His original videos of him have been deleted, but people have reposted them.)

“I want to say to Chef Pii, sorry if this scared you at all, or impacted your business in any way,” he says in the video. “This was meant to be a full social experiment to see how quickly other people could spread misinformation.”

He goes on to describe how, in all of the videos he posted when he was supposedly sick, he never actually said that he even the pink sauce, and that he only implied that he had died.

“When I say I ate the Pink Sauce, it’s not trademarked unfortunately, so you don’t know which pink sauce I am talking about,” he said.

Chef Pii said she was furious with the man. But, she said, it wouldn’t stop her.

“I know the whole purpose and why I’m doing this, I have real supporters. So the good comes with the bad and I choose the good over the bad,” she said. “Pink Sauce ain’t going nowhere.”

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