Eating Ultra-Spicy Food Did Kill Boy: Autopsy

Massachusetts teen died last year after eating chip made by Paqui
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2024 12:00 AM CDT
In Death of Boy After 'One Chip Challenge,' Capsaicin Is to Blame
A Paqui One Chip Challenge chip is displayed in Boston, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023.   (AP Photo/Steve LeBlanc, File)

It was indeed a high level of the chemical found in spicy chili peppers that killed a 14-year-old Massachusetts boy last year, the state's medical examiner found. Harris Wolobah ate an ultra-spicy chip branded as the "One Chip Challenge," made by the company Paqui, at school in September and lost consciousness hours later at home after complaining his stomach hurt. He never recovered. The autopsy, which was completed in February but is only just now making headlines, found that the teen's cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest "in the setting of recent ingestion of a food substance with high capsaicin concentration," according to a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the Washington Post reports.

The autopsy could not confirm the origin of the capsaicin, but the chips (which were discontinued after Wolobah's death) were made from some of the world's hottest chili peppers. The autopsy also found Wolobah had an enlarged heart and a congenital heart defect. His family says they didn't know about the conditions when Wolobah died, and People, citing the NIH, reports that is not uncommon with enlargement of the heart. Paqui says in a statement that its product was not intended for children or people with underlying health conditions. (More accidental death stories.)

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