Health concerns from popular ‘One Chip Challenge’ prompt warnings

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It’s one of the most popular food challenges on social media, but there are concerns it could also be one of the most dangerous.

It’s called the “One Chip Challenge,” and if you’re on Tik Tok or YouTube, you probably know about it.  The challenge is to eat a spicy Paqui-brand tortilla chip seasoned with some of the spiciest peppers available, and then wait as long as possible to eat or drink anything.

It’s meant to be harmless, but sometimes it’s not.

“Just because something is available, doesn’t make it safe,” said Dr. Travis Olives, an emergency physician and poison expert at Hennepin Healthcare.

He says his hospital has had 39 calls about the One Chip Challenge in the past year; 34 of those calls have involved kids under the age of 16.

Olives says the substance in peppers called capsaicin acts as an irritant and in some cases can cause serious, secondary complications.

“The most common symptoms are mostly G.I. symptoms: Vomiting, belly pain and discomfort in the throat and mouth,” he said. 

States such as California, Texas and Alabama have reportedly seen hospitalizations due to the chip.  School districts in Georgia, California and also here in the Twin Cities are warning parents about the challenge. 

A Paqui spokesperson provided the following statement regarding the One Chip Challenge:

“We take safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information. It is our intent that consumers take on this challenge with a full understanding of what it is and if it is appropriate for them.

“As our labeling states, the Paqui One Chip Challenge is notoriously hot. The product should be handled with extreme care. Our One Chip Challenge packaging includes a safety disclaimer noting that it should not be ingested by individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin, or who are minors, pregnant or have medical conditions.

“The challenge can be fun for those who understand what they are taking on, but nonetheless, we hope that people considering taking this challenge will first read the packaging carefully to avoid a negative experience.”

If you have questions or concerns, contact the MN Poison Control System at 800-222-1222.