According to New York magazine's Grub Street blog, consumption of Flamin' Hot Cheetos and Takis are the "leading cause of gastric-related hospital visits among kids, with one Memphis, Tennessee, children's hospital estimating this year that it sees 100-150 patients per year following overconsumption of spicy snacks."
Billboard spoke to Dr. Thomas Ullman, the chief of gastroenterology at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Montefiore Medical Center, to find out what might have caused Xan's Flamin' Hot stomach problems. "Depending on what's in the spicy snack food, the potential for GI [gastrointestinal] intolerance could be a volume-based phenomenon," says Ullman, who has no first-hand knowledge of Xan's case but was speaking in general terms about the potential side-effects of overindulging in spicy snacks.
Ullman says any issues could also be a side-effect of one of the main ingredients in salty/spicy snacks: monosodium glutamate, aka MSG, a widely used flavor enhancer. "In my reading on this, it seems as though some of the complaints or some of the presenting symptoms such as red stool are people mistaking what they think is blood for what is red dyes that are in foods," he says, noting that doctors often have a hard time figuring out what exactly makes up a patient's vomit. "Overeating anything can cause GI intolerance or gastrointestinal symptoms and any number of other symptoms, vomiting among them."
A spokesperson for Cheetos maker Frito-Lay responded to a request for comment with the following statement: "At Frito-Lay, we aim to delight our consumers and food safety is always our number one priority. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos meet all applicable food safety regulations, as well as our rigorous quality standards. That said, we realize some consumers may be more sensitive to spicy foods than others and may choose to moderate consumption or avoid spicier snacks due to personal preference."