United Workers Union flags ‘worker safety concerns’ ‘flamin’ hot’ seasoning used on Doritos

Factory workers claim they are having difficulty breathing and experiencing skin irritation after dealing with the seasoning used to make “flamin’ hot” Doritos, a union says.

SafeWork SA is looking into the claims after the United Workers Union alleged employees at a local 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” dispersed across the factory production area every couple of weeks from a seasoning machine.

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“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.

PepsiCo, which owns The Smith’s Snackfood Company, was contacted for comment.

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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