Clovis school officials: Spicy chips sending students for treatment


Last updated 9/24/2022 at 12:08pm

Nursing staff at Clovis Municipal Schools have seen nearly two dozen students recently needing treatment due to “One Chip Challenge” chips, according to a school email sent to parents.

The product called "Paqui" consists of a coffin shaped package containing a single tortilla chip coated in spicy flavoring, which is advertised to be made from Carolina Reaper and Scorpion pepper, the email stated. "As of Friday, more than 20 students in our district have required medical intervention after either ingesting or touching One Chip Challenge chips, nearly half of which were elementary students younger than 12."

School Superintendent Renee Russ said students needing treatment have ranged from "seen in the nurse's office, to needing to go home, to being seen by a healthcare provider ... I think there is something in there that kids can have an allergic reaction to. This is my first experience with this and so I don't know a lot about it."

Promotional advertising for Paqui Tortilla Chips online report:

“Hey! We're Paqui (pronounced pah-kee) and we do bold the natural way by only using real ingredients to create fierce flavors with nothing artificial. Ever. After all our light & crispy chip recipe (and our name) is a tribute to the Aztecs that inspired us. And they weren't exactly known for compromising. So neither are we.”

The chips are sold at multiple locations across the region including most grocery stores and one-stop convenience stores.

Multiple news agencies have reported the "challenge" is popular today because of recent activity on the social media site TikTok.

A representative for Paqui told TODAY that "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."

According to the Clovis schools email to parents:

The chips are sold for about $5 each, are widely available, and do not require adult purchase.

Each one chip challenge package bears a warning label which states:

“Do not eat if you are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades, or capsaicin, or are pregnant or have any medical conditions. Keep out of reach of children. After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch your eyes or other sensitive areas. Seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or nausea.”

School officials are urging parents to talk with their children about the trend and instruct them not to share food at school or with friends. "Coming in contact with the chips can pose serious health consequences and/or injury, particularly for small children and individuals with allergies or asthma," the email states.

Jorge Cruz, administrator for Clovis' Plains Regional Medical Center, said he was not aware of local clinics seeing any cases related to the one chip challenge. "But, we would definitely urge parents to be aware of this concern and follow the excellent guidance suggested by Clovis schools."

Portales schools Superintendent Johnnie Cain said he was not aware of any major concerns with the chips in Portales. "No sick kids, but one kid did mention it to a nurse," he wrote in a text message to The News on Friday.

Officials at Plains Regional Medical Center did not immediately respond to questions late Friday afternoon.

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