(AUSTIN, Texas) — Paqui, an Austin, Texas-based chip company famous for its viral Paqui “One Chip Challenge” product, is working with retailers to pull the tortilla chip from shelves, the company announced on its website.
The decision to remove the chip comes after a 14-year-old — Harris Wolobah — died in Massachusetts on Sept. 1, which his family believes is related to the Paqui “One Chip Challenge,” according to WCVB-TV, an ABC News affiliate.
Worcester Police confirmed Wolobah’s death is under investigation and that he died on the same day that he participated in the Paqui “One Chip Challenge.”
“The Paqui One Chip Challenge is intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting the chip is not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions,” the statement from Paqui read.
Paqui was selling single chip packages, and the “One Chip Challenge” involves seeing how long a person can go without eating or drinking after eating the hot pepper chip. The challenge went viral online and many videos show people as they attempt to eat the chip.
According to Paqui’s frequently asked question section on their website, the chip is seasoned with Carolina Reaper Peppers and Naga Viper Pepper. The site also said the peppers are “among the hottest peppers currently available,” with Carolina Reaper Peppers roughly 1.7 million Scoville Units and the Naga Viper Pepper at roughly 1.4 million Scoville Units, a unit used to measure the heat of peppers. A jalapeño registers between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville Units, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Paqui explained they were pulling the chip since they had seen consumers not paying attention to the recommendations on the label.
“We have seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings. As a result, while the product continues to adhere to food safety standards, out of an abundance of caution, we are actively working with our retailers to remove the product from shelves,” the company’s statement continued.
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday to note the dangers of the chip.
“Medical professionals have said the tortilla chip, which is made from two of the spiciest chili peppers in the world, can cause very serious and dangerous side effects,” read Early Jr.’s post.
Early Jr. suggested parents warn their children not to participate in the viral challenge as “other states across the country have seen hospitalizations due to the chip challenge, including teens.”
In a statement announcing Wolobah’s death, Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Rachel Monárrez said: “As a mother and educator, I cannot imagine how hard this is on his family, friends and teachers. My heart goes out to all who knew and loved him.”
Paqui said the company is offering refunds on the “One Chip Challenge” product.
Good Morning America has reached out to Paqui for additional comment.
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