“One Chip Challenge” Led to the Death of a Massachusetts Kid, Autopsy Finds

An autopsy determined that a teenager from Massachusetts died from cardiac arrest a few hours after eating a spicy tortilla chip as part of the “One Chip Challenge.” The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that Harris Wolobah from Worcester had consumed a large quantity of chili pepper extract.

The 14-year-old passed away on September 1, 2023. Paqui, a chip maker, removed their product from store shelves shortly after the death of the person associated with it.

Harris Wolobah Cause of Death

Wolobah’s cause of death was determined to be cardiopulmonary arrest, which occurred after consuming a food substance with a high concentration of capsaicin. The medical examiner found that Wolobah had an enlarged heart and a congenital heart defect.

Last year, the mother of the teenager, Lois Wolobah, received a call from the school nurse at Doherty High School. The nurse said that Harris fainted after eating a chip that a friend had given him. Later, he lost consciousness again at home and was brought to an emergency room, where he passed away.

The family stated that Wolobah was a healthy basketball player and did not have any known allergies.

“I really hope and pray that no other parents will experience what I am currently going through.” I don’t want anyone else to experience the same pain that I am currently feeling. Lois Wolobah said. “I really miss my son a lot. I really miss him a lot.

Lois Wolobah chose not to be interviewed on camera after the cause of her son’s death was made known. However, she expressed that her family is devastated and upset, and she personally feels the same pain as she did on September 1st.

What is the “One Chip Challenge”?

The “One Chip Challenge” has become popular on social media. It involves a single chip that comes in a box labeled “Carolina Reaper” and “Naga Viper Pepper.” The package has a warning label on the back that says “Do not let children touch it.” WBZ-TV discovered the chips in a store located approximately 10 minutes away from Wolobah’s school last autumn.

“The Paqui’s One Chip Challenge was made for adults only. The packaging clearly stated that the product was not suitable for children or anyone who is sensitive to spicy foods or has health issues.” We noticed that more and more teenagers and other people are not paying attention to these warnings.

Due to an excess of caution, even though the product met food safety standards, we decided to work with retailers to remove it from shelves in September 2023. As a result, the One Chip Challenge has been discontinued. A spokesperson from Paqui provided a statement to WBZ-TV.

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Is Capsaicin Dangerous?

Capsaicin is the compound that gives chili peppers their spiciness. The amount of capsaicin in a product is measured using Scoville heat units.

The tortilla chips used in the “One Chip Challenge” are made with two of the spiciest ingredients, measuring between 1.4 million and 2.2 million on the Scoville heat unit scale. Jalapeno peppers, on the other hand, have a Scoville rating of only 2,500 to 8,000.

Capsaicin can cause irritation in the mouth and throat, and it can also lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. According to the National Capital Poison Center, when taken in very large amounts, it can lead to more severe issues like allergic reactions, harm to the esophagus, fast heart rate, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and even heart attacks.

Dr. Mallika Marshall from WBZ-TV advises parents to caution their children about participating in social media challenges involving dangerously spicy foods, even if the product is no longer available in stores. It is important for kids to resist peer pressure and avoid engaging in such activities. If you or your child have difficulty breathing or experience chest pain after eating capsaicin, please call 911.

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