A woman has been arrested after allegedly forcing her boyfriend's two-year-old daughter to eat chilli powder which then killed her.

The toddler suffered a seizure and died after ingesting the powder – allegedly given to her as a punishment, according to reports.

Amanda Sorensen, 21, of Apple Valley, California, was taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death.

Police were called to the family home on Sunday where they found the girl, who was the daughter of Sorensen's boyfriend.

The toddler, whose name has not been released, was rushed to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.

Chilli's main ingredient Capsaicin is an irritant in humans and other mammals, causing a burning sensation in the tissues with which it comes into contact. If a baby ingests chilli powder it can swell the airways and cause them to stop breathing.

Sorensen is being held at the West Valley Detention Centeron on $500,000 bail.

How can some people be so cruel?