Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Teen Died After Eating a Spicy Chip As Part of Social Media Challenge

A teen died after eating a large amount of chile pepper extract as part of a spicy tortilla chip challenge, according to autopsy reports.

Harris Wolobah, a 16-year-old from Worchester, Massachusetts, died last September, after participating in Paqui’s ‘One Chip Challenge’.

harris He was found unresponsive in his home after eating the extremely spicy Paqui Carolina Reaper chip, and was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to the autopsy report, the official cause of death is cardiopulmonary arrest ’caused by a recent ingestion of a high capsaicin food substance.’

The autopsy also said Wolobah had cardiomegaly, a condition in which an individual has an enlarged heart, and a congenital defect affecting the bridging of the left anterior part of the heart.

Dr. Udelson from Tufts Medical Center said a myocardial bridge occurs when a part of the heart’s atery runs within the heart muscle itself instead of on the surface. He believes the spicy chip may have stimulated his heart to the point where there was abnormal blood flow beyond the bridge, causing a severe arrhythmia.

one chip challenge
The Paqui ‘One Chip Challenge’ involved eating a Paqui Carolina Reaper chip without water and other foods

He noted that there have been previous reports of ischemia due to high capsaicin consumption.

According to cardiologist Dr. Syed Haider, consuming high levels of capsaicin can affect the intensity at which the heart squeezes and that can put extra pressure on the anterior artery.

However, he noted people without underlying heart conditions can also experience serious effects after consuming food substances with high levels of capsaicin.

The One Chip Challenge

The spicy chip, sold in individual packs for approximately $10, came in a coffin-shaped box that described it as a ‘vengeful pleasure of intense heat and pain’.

The packaging also contained warnings that it is meant for adults only and should be kept out of reach of minors. Those with food allergies or a sensitivity to spicy food are also advised not to consume the chip,

chip warning
Warnings indicated that the chip was not for children and those sensitive to spicy foods

Despite the clear labeling, the company said they’ve seen an increase in individuals who have not heeded the warnings. For one thing, children can easily purchase the chips from stores as there are no restrictions. As a result, many teens have gotten sick from participating in the ‘One Chip Challenge’.

Among them were three high school students from California who had to receive medical treatment at the hospital and seven Minnesota students who also required medical help.

The social media challenge had called for individiuals to eat the spicy chip and see how long they could last without consuming water or other food. Sales of the product was largely driven by individuals posting the challenge video to TikTok and other social media platforms.

Most of the videos showed individuals, including children, unwrapping the foil wrapping, ingesting the chip, and then reacting to the spiciness. Many people could be seen coughing, gagging, or asking for water after eating the product.

While the product adheres to food safety standards, the company will be pulling the spicy chips from shelves out of an abundance of caution.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.
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