For the record

January 28, 2000

It would bring a tear to the eye of the most hardened vindaloo aficionado. Scientists have created a chemical compound that is 100 times hotter than the most potent chilli pepper. Fortunately, Denatonium Capsaicinate will not be used to spice up food.

Its inventors, Melvin Blum and Michael Roitberg, of the Burlington Bio-Medical and Scientific Corporation, in the United States, say it can be used to stop rats gnawing at cables and prevent barnacles from growing on boat hulls.

According to the substance's patent record: "The bitter taste and stinging or burning sensation provided by the compound can last for as long as ten minutes, and in some cases, up to half an hour. The taste threshold is about one part in 10 million parts."

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