Paqui, the maker of extremely spicy tortilla chips marketed as ‘One Chip Challenge’, is voluntarily removing the product from shelves after a mother says her teenage son died of complications from eating a single crisps.
The chips were sold individually and their seasoning contained two of the hottest peppers in the world: the Carolina Reaper and the Naga Viper.
Each chip was packaged in a coffin-shaped container with a skull on the front.
Lois Wolobah told NBC10 Boston that her 14-year-old son Harris Wolobah ate the chips on Friday and then went to the school nurse with a stomach ache. Wolobah said Harris — a sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Mass. — passed out at his home that afternoon. He was pronounced dead in hospital later that day, she said.
The autopsy has not yet revealed the cause of death.
A spokesperson for Paqui told NBC News Thursday that the company is “deeply saddened by the passing of Harris Wolobah and expressed our condolences to the family.”
“Although the Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, we have seen an increase in the use of the product by teenagers. We care about all of our consumers and have made the decision to remove the product from the shelves,” the spokesperson said. “We are actively working with our retailers and offering refunds for any purchase of our single-serve chip challenge product.”
Until sales of the product were suspended, Paqui’s marketing challenged people to take part in the challenge by eating a chip, posting a picture of their tongue on social media after the chip turned blue, then waiting as long as possible to relieve the burn with water. or other food.
The challenge has been around in one form or another since 2016.
“Only the brave will be able to prove they’ve faced the Reaper when they show their blue tongue after completing the challenge,” said Brandon Kieffer, former Senior Brand Manager of Paqui, in a press release. ‘last year.
The product label warns that children, pregnant people, people with underlying medical conditions, people with sensitivities to spicy foods, and people with allergies to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin (the component of peppers that makes them spicy) should avoid crisps. People should seek medical attention if they experience difficulty breathing, fainting or prolonged nausea after eating the crisps, the warning reads.
The label also advised people who touched the chip to wash their hands afterwards with soap and avoid touching their eyes or other sensitive areas.
The spiciness of peppers is measured on the Scoville scale, which calculates the heat units of a given pepper. Carolina Reapers get around 1.7 million Scoville Heat Units and Naga Viper Peppers around 1.4 million. In contrast, a jalapeño pepper has up to 8,500 Scoville heat units.
The main health risks from eating a Carolina Reaper involve vomiting, burning, or numbness in the mouth, according to a 2020 study. Studies have also documented severe headaches from eating peppers. extremely spicy, as well as a case in which a man vomited so much while eating ghost peppers that he burst a hole in his esophagus.
Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said Wednesday in a post on X that hospitalizations related to the One Chip Challenge have been reported across the country, including among teenagers. Last fall, the Dublin, Northern California Unified School District told NBC Bay Area that several of its students were sent home due to adverse reactions to the product.
“As the investigation into the cause of death of the teenager in Worcester continues, the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office would like to remind parents to research and discuss the One-Chip Challenge with their children,” said writes Early.
Parents, he added, should advise their children “not to participate in this activity”.