Holliston schools warning families after 10 students take part in ‘One Chip Challenge’

Holliston schools are warning families after a group of students took part in the “One Chip Challenge” earlier this week. The social media challenge is at the center of an investigation into the death of a Worcester teen who died earlier this month after eating the scorching hot chip.

Approximately 10 students at Robert Adams Middle School ate the chip during 7th-grade lunch on Monday, Principal David Jordan wrote in a letter he sent home to parents. He said all students who ate or touched the chip became physically distressed and were monitored by the nursing staff. The students were then picked up by family members.

“The ‘One Chip Challenge’ is another example of one of the highly risky, and sometimes life-threatening, Tik Tok challenges that middle schoolers are particularly vulnerable to participating in due to their age-related development and interests,” Jordan said. “I ask that all families please speak to their children about the risks of “challenges” of this nature and be aware that your child may have or may be considering participating in a challenge such as this.”

Superintendent Susan Kustka echoed a similar sentiment.

“This was of serious concern, particularly given the recent death of a Worcester student who had taken this challenge last week. Thankfully, none of our students became seriously ill but this could have been much more serious,” Kustra shared.

Harris Wolobah, of Worcester, recently passed away after taking part in the “One Chip Challenge,” which involves eating an extremely spicy chip made from some of the hottest peppers in the world.

Paqui, the chip used in the challenge, contains very high levels of capsaicin, which has been found to cause esophageal damage, heart problems, and restrict breathing at the levels in the chip, according to officials.

Worcester Police say while there is no official cause of death yet, it appears he did eat the infamously scorching chip earlier in the day.

Pacqui later pulled the product from store shelves. In a statement posted on its website, Paqui said, “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. 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.”

A local toxicologist, Dr. Peter Chai, an Emergency Services physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said it’s possible to get a toxic dose of the ingredient that gives hot peppers their heat: capsaicin.

The issue is ingesting enough of the capsaicin to achieve a lethal level. And while the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains -- humans would still have to eat an unreasonable amount of peppers to get poisoned.

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