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Autopsy Reveals Teen's Death Linked to Ultra-Spicy "One Chip Challenge"

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Tragic Consequence of a Dangerous Food Trend

In a shocking turn of events, a 14-year-old boy from Massachusetts lost his life after participating in the “One Chip Challenge,” an online trend that dared consumers to eat a single, extremely spicy tortilla chip. Harris Wolobah became unresponsive at home mere hours after consuming the chip at school and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

5 Key Points

  • Harris Wolobah, 14, died from cardiac arrest after eating a Paqui chip seasoned with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers.
  • The autopsy report revealed that Harris had an enlarged heart and a congenital heart condition, which may have contributed to his death.
  • The “One Chip Challenge” has been discontinued, and Paqui has worked with retailers to remove the product from store shelves.
  • Paqui maintains that the challenge was intended for adults only and unsuitable for children or those with underlying health conditions.
  • Before Harris’s death, several incidents of children suffering adverse reactions after consuming the chips had been reported across the United States.

 

A Dangerous Food Trend

The “One Chip Challenge” gained popularity on social media, with participants filming themselves eating the ultra-spicy chip and reacting to its intense heat. The chip, produced by Paqui, a subsidiary of the Hershey Co., was seasoned with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers, some of the hottest chili peppers in the world.

Underlying Health Conditions

According to the autopsy report, Harris had an enlarged heart, and a congenital heart condition called myocardial bridging of the left anterior descending coronary artery. These pre-existing health issues, combined with the high capsaicin concentration in the chip, likely contributed to his cardiac arrest and subsequent death.

Company Response and Product Discontinuation

In the wake of Harris’s tragic death, Paqui has expressed its condolences to his family and friends. The company maintains that the “One Chip Challenge” was intended for adults only and not suitable for children, individuals sensitive to spicy foods, or those with underlying health conditions. Paqui has since discontinued the product and worked with retailers to remove it from store shelves.

Previous Incidents and Warnings

Before Harris’s death, several incidents of children suffering adverse reactions after consuming the chips had been reported across the United States. In January 2022, three high school students in Lodi, California, were taken to the emergency room after experiencing vomiting and difficulty breathing. In September 2022, three middle school students in Tyler, Texas, and approximately 30 children in Clovis, New Mexico, reported symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems and skin and eye irritation after eating the chips.

One Chip Challenge FAQ

What caused Harris Wolobah’s death?

According to the autopsy report, Harris Wolobah died from cardiac arrest “in the setting of recent ingestion of a food substance with high capsaicin concentration.” The report also noted that he had an enlarged heart and a congenital heart condition.

What is the “One Chip Challenge”?

The “One Chip Challenge” was a social media trend that dared consumers to eat a single, extremely spicy tortilla chip seasoned with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers, some of the hottest chili peppers in the world.

Who produced the chip involved in the “One Chip Challenge”?

Paqui, a subsidiary of the Hershey Co, produced the chip.

Has the “One Chip Challenge” been discontinued?

Yes, Paqui has discontinued the “One Chip Challenge” and worked with retailers to voluntarily remove the product from store shelves in September 2023.

Were there any previous incidents related to the “One Chip Challenge”?

Yes, before Harris’s death, several incidents of children suffering adverse reactions after consuming the chips had been reported across the United States, including in California, Texas, and New Mexico.

Citations:

Javaid, M., & Edwards, J. (2023, May). Teen died from ultra-spicy ‘One Chip Challenge,’ autopsy finds. MSN News. 

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