Texas-based chipmaker Paqui, a subsidiary of The Hershey Company, has announced the removal of its fiery ‘One Chip Challenge’ from shelves following the death of a 14-year-old Massachusetts teen, Harris Wolobah. The cause of Wolobah’s death remains under investigation, with an autopsy pending, but his family has attributed it to the chip challenge.

Paqui’s ‘One Chip Challenge’ has gained notoriety on social media as participants attempt to endure the intense heat without drinking or eating anything for as long as possible after consuming the fiery tortilla chip. The product is packaged in a sealed foil pouch within a coffin-shaped cardboard box and is emblazoned with warnings that it is intended for adults and should be kept out of children’s reach.

In a statement from the company, Paqui expressed sorrow over Wolobah’s death and cited an increase in teenagers and others disregarding the warnings. The company is working with retailers to remove the product from store shelves. They emphasize their strict adherence to food safety standards.

Medical experts have cautioned about the chip’s potential danger due to its high capsaicin concentration, a chemical also found in pepper spray. They have also highlighted the possibility of fatal consequences, including heart dysrhythmia or irreversible heart injury that can occur when exposed to high capsaicin doses.

Worcester police reported responding to a call at Wolobah’s residence on Aug. 31, where they found him unresponsive and not breathing. Despite being transported to a hospital, he was pronounced dead. Friends and family of Wolobah contend that the chip led to his death, prompting calls for a ban on the product.

Paqui has issued a statement reiterating that the ‘One Chip Challenge’ is exclusively intended for adults and prominently labeled to deter children, those sensitive to spicy foods, individuals with food allergies, underlying health conditions, or who are pregnant from attempting it.

The company has recalled Paqui’s 2023 ‘One Chip Challenge’ in Canada due to the reported adverse reactions. A food safety investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is ongoing.

The CFIA, advises consumers to not consume or distribute the recalled products as their investigations. 

For refunds and additional information, customers can contact Paqui at 1-866-528-6848 or visit their website.

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