Company Pulls 'One Chip Challenge' From Store Shelves After Teen Dies
FRIDAY, Sept. 8, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The maker of the “One Chip Challenge” has pulled the product from store shelves after a Massachusetts mom claimed the super spicy chip, packaged in a coffin-shaped container, contributed to the death of her 14-year-old son.
"The Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting the chip is not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies," the company said in a statement posted Thursday on its website.
Still, "we have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings," the company added. "As a result, while the product continues to adhere to food safety standards, out of an abundance of caution, we are actively working with our retailers to remove the product from shelves."
Hospitalizations from the One Chip Challenge have been reported across the country, said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. in a social media post on Wednesday.
"While the investigation into the cause of the teenager’s death in Worcester continues, the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office would like to remind parents to research and discuss with your children about the one-chip challenge," Early wrote.
Parents should tell their children "not to partake in this activity," he wrote.
Harris Wolobah, 14, ate the chip last Friday, his mother, Lois Wolobah, told NBC Boston.
He then went to the school nurse at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester with a stomachache. Later, he passed out at home in the afternoon.
The boy was pronounced dead at the hospital the next day, NBC News reported.
The chips in the “One Chip Challenge” are seasoned with two of the hottest peppers, the Carolina Reaper and the Naga Viper.
Chili pepper spiciness is measured on the Scoville scale. While the Naga Viper scores 1.4 million, the Carolina Reaper scores 1.7 million. Meanwhile, a jalapeño pepper is 8,500 Scoville heat units, NBC News reported.
Marketing for the company had dared people to eat the chip, post a picture after their tongues turned blue and then wait as long as possible to relieve the burn with water or other food, NBC News reported. Variations of the challenge had been ongoing since 2016.
A Paqui spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday that the company was “deeply saddened by the death of Harris Wolobah and express our condolences to the family,” NBC News reported.
Those who eat the chip should seek medical attention if having difficulty breathing, fainting or experiencing extended nausea, the packaging warns.
The packaging also gave warnings about touching the chip and washing your hands afterwards.
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology has more on the heat of peppers.
SOURCE: NBC News