Family of Worcester teen who died after partaking in One Chip Challenge to file lawsuit

The family of a Worcester teen who died after eating an extraordinarily spicy chip as part of a viral challenge will file a lawsuit over his death, lawyers said Wednesday.

Harris Wolobah passed away last year 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, according to his family.

Lawyers representing Wolobah’s family said they hoping the lawsuit against the chip producer Paqui will curtail other dangerous products winding up on store shelves.

“He was an inspiration to all and beloved by his family and the entire community,” the family’s attorney stated. “The Wolobahs hope that this case, which could have national and even international implications, will send a message to all who would market dangerous products, especially utilizing social media, to children.”

The cause of death was listed as cardiopulmonary arrest “in the setting of recent ingestion of food substance with high capsaicin concentration.” The report also noted that the teen had an enlarged heart and a congenital heart defect.

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.”

In addition to warning that the chips aren’t meant for children, the packaging encourages buyers to eat the entire chip, “wait as long as possible before drinking or eating anything” and post their reactions on social media. It also asks how long the consumer can last, on a scale from one minute to one hour.

The back of the package warns buyers not to eat the chip if they are “sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, night shades or capsaicin or are pregnant or have any medical conditions.” It also says people should wash their hands after touching the chip and “seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW

Comments on this article