A group of middle school students in Holliston had to be picked up from school after they participated in a social media challenge that involves eating an extremely spicy tortilla chip, officials said.
David Jordan, principal of the Robert Adams Middle School, said approximately 10 students took part in the “One Chip Challenge” during the seventh-grade lunch break on Monday.
“This was discovered immediately due to the physical distress the chip created for all of the students involved,” Jordan wrote in a message on the school district’s website. “All students who ate or touched the chip were monitored by the nursing staff and picked up by their families immediately. It was recommended by the nurse that the students go to the emergency room.”
Noting the recent death of Harris Wolobah, a 14-year-old Worcester boy who died after eating the same spicy chip, Jordan recommended that families speak to their children about the risks of participating in such stunts.
“The product has since been pulled from the store shelves,” Jordan wrote. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
Superintendent Susan E. Kustka said none of the students became seriously ill, “but this could have been much more serious.”
In a message to families, Kustka said that the company’s disclaimer states that the chip “should not be ingested by individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods, have allergies to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin, and those who are minors, are pregnant, or have any medical conditions.”
Kustka said students should not bring Paqui chips to school.
“The side effects caused by the pepper dust, the same ingredient in pepper spray, include blue-tinged vomiting and severe abdominal pain. Other serious side effects include burning in eyes, nose and throat, coughing, trouble breathing, sweating and mouth pain,” Kustka wrote. “This challenge is a serious health and safety concern for our students.”
The company said it is working with retailers to remove the product from stores and is offering refunds for “any purchases of our single-serve one chip challenge product.”