The manufacturer of a napalm-hot tortilla chip product that has been at the center of a social media challenge has announced that the product is being pulled from shelves following the death of a Massachusetts teen who was stricken after reportedly eating one of the chips.
On Thursday, Paqui announced that it was removing its popular One Chip Challenge from stores in the aftermath of the passing of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah of Worcester who died after reportedly consuming the chip which contains Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper Peppers, the hottest on the planet.
(Video: NBC News)
“While the Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, we have seen an increase in teen usage of the product,” the company said in a statement posted to social media. “We care about all of our consumers and have made the decision to remove the product from shelves.”
“The product’s label clearly states it is not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions,” the statement reads. “We are actively working with our retailers and are offering refunds for any purchase of our single-serve one chip challenge product.”
— Paqui Chips (@paquichips) September 7, 2023
The chip comes wrapped in foil in a coffin-shaped package with the image of a skull and the warning to “seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea.” The challenge is to eat one of the chips and see how long you can go without a drink of water or eating other food and to post reactions online.
Wolobah, a basketball-loving 10th-grader at Doherty Memorial High School who was described as a “rising star” by Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez was found “unresponsive and not breathing” by police who were called to his home and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
— BizPac Review (@BIZPACReview) September 8, 2023
The young man’s family is blaming the consumption of the chip although the medical examiner has not officially determined the cause of death.
“No pre-existing condition,” said the teen’s father Amos Wolobah, reported CBS Boston. “Not to my knowledge.”
“I feel bad that his life ended short because of a social media challenge,” said 15-year-old Marcus Kaba who played basketball with Harris and is quoted by the Associated Press.
“People were telling me Harris passed away. I was just angry,” said David Adjer, a teen who attended the vigil for Wolobah, according to AP. “I don’t think we should have this chip anymore. If someone dies from this chip, you should take out … They should take the chip off the shelves because we don’t need any more accidents like this.”
“The spiciness of chili peppers is measured on the Scoville scale, which calculates the heat units in a given pepper. Carolina Reapers score around 1.7 million Scoville heat units and Naga Viper peppers around 1.4 million. A jalapeño pepper, by contrast, rates up to 8,500 Scoville heat units,” according to NBC News.
The company is offering refunds for the One Chip Challenge product.
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