News & Events

Ted Bassett Interviewed by Spectrum News Worcester


PUBLISHED 5:20 PM ET SEP. 12, 2023

WORCESTER, Mass. - Chipmaker Paqui pulled the popular "One Chip Challenge" from store shelves across the country last week after the death of a local teen whose parents said he participated in the challenge.

It’s comprised of eating an extremely spicy tortilla chip which registers more than 1 million Scoville heat units. For comparison, a jalapeno can be anywhere between 2,500 and 8,000.

On its website, Paqui said the challenge is intended for adults only and there is labeling on the package. The company goes on to state, “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.”

Attorney Ted Bassett is the chair of Mirick O'Connell's personal injury litigation group and has practiced civil litigation for more than 25 years. Bassett said based on his experience, he believes product liability could be an issue, but describes this situation as unique.

"There is no restriction,” Bassett said. “It's not like buying cigarettes where you have to show an ID to buy it. Anyone could walk into that store and buy this product. The spice that is used here is so, so powerful, yet there don't seem to be any government regulations prohibiting it. Yet, it's been a known ingredient to cause all kinds of health problems."

“The manufacturer says to keep out of the reach of children, yet, the whole marketing strategy seems to be to put it on social media. And, who do you attract on social media? Kids that are under 18.”

Earlier this month, the family of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah said they suspected his death followed from his participation in the “One Chip Challenge.”

Autopsy results from the state's medical examiner on an official cause of death have not been released.