The death of a teenage boy has sparked the company behind a viral spicy chip challenge to pull their product from store shelves.
The “One Chip Challenge" has become popular among social media influencers in recent months, encouraging those to partake to eat a single tortilla chip covered in an extremely spicy powder and avoid drinking soothing liquids for as long as possible.
The single chip sells for $10, and is packaged in a coffin-shaped box. It contains two of the hottest peppers in the world: the Carolina Reaper and the Naga Viper, according to its manufacturer Paqui's website. The box contains a warning that the product is intended for adults and should be avoided by those under the age of 18.
“We have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings,” Paqui said in a statement. “As a result, while the product continues to adhere to food safety standards, out of abundance of caution, we are actively working with retailers to remove the product from shelves.”
Paqui's announcement follows the death of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah, who passed shortly after consuming the chip, according to his mother. Lois Wolobah told NBC Boston her son’s school called last Friday to pick up Harris, who had become sick. Despite feeling better in the afternoon, he suddenly passed out and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Though the official cause of death is unknown, Wolobah has blamed the chip, telling The New York Times: “I just want there to be an awareness for parents to know that it’s not safe. It needs to be out of the market completely.”
According to Lauren Rice, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Tufts Medical Center, it was not the first hospitalization reported that was caused by the chip.
“This goes back to the ingredients that are used with the tortilla chip,” she told The Associated Press. “There are some spices like capsaicin, which is a chemical ingredient that we use in things like pepper spray and so they are very strong chemicals and they can be very irritating. Some of the more severe symptoms that we see can be things like significant abdominal pain or nausea and vomiting.”