The creator behind the viral “pink sauce” addresses the internet’s concerns after TikTok users questioned the safety of its homemade dipping sauce.
The mysterious sauce, which appears to range from an opaque blush to a vibrant fuchsia, has captivated and shocked people online. TikTok viewers can’t stop talking about the product, which costs a whopping $20 a bottle. The tag #pinksauce has 80.9 million views on the app. Pink sauce wax trending on Twitter on Thursday.
The sauce has inspired memes and raised food safety concerns about the product TikTok creator Chef Pii makes, sells and ships from Florida.
But Chef Pii isn’t too concerned. “I’m like, this is the Madonna,” she said in an interview about her product. “This is the Beyoncé of those sauces.”
Chef Pii, who wanted to be referred to her TikTok username out of privacy concerns, first showed off the sauce in videos of her sprinkling it on platters of food.
Videos of her preparing the sauce for a pop-up event got attention, and “TikTok demanded they want the pink sauce,” she said.
But not long after the sauce went viral, many on TikTok started pointing out the obvious differences in the product’s color. They questioned Chef Pii’s quality control, noting that there is inconsistent nutritional information on each bottle.
Critics have also questioned whether the sauce can be kept and whether it is safe to ship during high summer temperatures. Some pointed out that the bottle’s label instructs users to store the product in the refrigerator despite shipping it without temperature-controlled packaging, raising further concerns about the possibility of food poisoning.
Others accused her of selling “mayo with food coloring” because Chef Pii initially refused to disclose the ingredients used in the sauce. She eventually released a partial list, which includes dragon fruit, honey, chili, garlic, and sunflower oil.
In one of the earliest videos she posted with the product, Chef Pii dipped a tender chicken in a bowl of magenta liquid. The video, posted on June 11, has approximately 755,000 views. “That looks like purple sauce today,” commented one viewer.
Chef Pii said she started experimenting with making a pink sauce in June 2021 and began posting videos of the “prototypes” later that summer. When she opened her restaurant Flavor Crazy that year, Chef Pii started adding her sauce to dishes. During pop-up events, “customers would ask for it.”
Flavor Crazy is no longer in business, Chef Pii said, but “that’s a whole different story.”
The 29-year-old chef is based in Miami, where Florida’s “cottage food items” laws allow individuals to sell certain foods that have “low risk of foodborne illness” from unlicensed home kitchens. Cottage food operators are allowed to manufacture and sell these products without a license as long as their gross sales do not exceed $250,000 per year.
Food Science Babe, a TikTok creator known for her nutrition videos, be aware errors on the nutrition facts label of the product. The bottle couldn’t possibly hold 444 one-tablespoon servings, Food Science Babe said, and the label had multiple spelling errors.
In a follow-up videodefended Food Science Babe Chef Pii of the internet dogpile, explaining that the response overshadowed legitimate concerns about labeling issues.
“There are plenty of real, known concerns about this product. This isn’t a real crime that you need to solve,” said Food Science Babe, who did not immediately respond to an interview request. “It’s pretty clear that there are issues with labelling, formulation and packaging. I have no doubt the formulation needs help from a preservation and emulsification standpoint, but this nonsense isn’t helping.”
Chef Pii said she’s heard people’s criticism online and that she’s “confident” that she’ll “come back from this 100%”.
People love my product. I made a few mistakes. We will come back from it and we will grow from there
– Chef Piic
“I can’t stop someone from taking a certain action,” Chief Pii said. “I can only choose how I react to it because I made something crazy. That’s what I’m going to stand for. I love my product. People love my product. I made a few mistakes. We’ll be back back and we’re going to grow from there.”
She added that previous videos showing the sauce as a lighter shade of pink were of “prototypes” and that she adjusted the shade to “what appealed to the audience the most.”
Chef Pii claimed she was initially unable to reveal that she used dragon fruit in place of food coloring before filing a trademark for the sauce.
She started selling bottles of sauce on July 1, and has shipped only about 200 units so far, she said. Her company has since paused production while the product is “currently undergoing official lab testing.”
NBC News could not confirm whether the product was tested in the lab, as Chef Pii would not reveal the name of the facility. She said she can’t do that until the lab results are in.
Addressing viewers’ concerns about the product’s ingredients, Chef Pii said the pink sauce contains “less than 2% dry milk” and added that her company “fixes that on the label, too.” She plans to change the product label to instruct users to store it in the refrigerator after opening. Chef Pii said the graphic designer “blew it up” when designing the label, promising to “proofread” the new one three times before it goes out the door.
“We didn’t test the sauce before sending it to people,” said Chef Pii. “The sauce is absolutely fine without being refrigerated until you open it.”
She said she’s open to lowering the price of the bottle if she can work with a “mass distributor or major company” to get the product into stores.
For now, however, Chef Pii said she’s focused on keeping her customers updated with updates.
“We’ve had a few accidents,” Chief Pii said. “You know, since this is so big, everyone wants a platform off my platform… We only have a handful of refund requests. Everyone says, ‘Honey, do it right’ and ‘we’re waiting for our sauce.’”