They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but in some cases, it can also be the way to a man’s demise. So, the next time you’re about to put something in your mouth, think twice. It may lead you to pain, to litigation, or to your last supper.
One chip Paqui’ng too much heat?
Amplify Snack Brands, Inc., the maker of Paqui tortilla chips, has been promoting its One Chip Challenge since 2016. The social media challenge is simple: eat one extremely spicy tortilla chip then avoid eating or drinking anything for as long as possible. Those who can last long (usually an hour) are considered invincible. Participants are encouraged to post their experience on social media.
Celebrities and popular figures from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Sean Evans have taken the challenge. Naturally, wannabe-online celebrities who wanted their 15 minutes of fame have also bit the bullet — er, spicy chip — on camera, with mixed results. Videos posted online show people sweating uncontrollably, begging for water, and looking like they're about to throw up after eating the chip.
Sadly, the challenge caused 14-year-old Harris Wolobah to, pardon the pun, cash in his chips. In September, the sophomore from Doherty Memorial High School in Massachusetts ate a Paqui chip seasoned with Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper, two of the hottest peppers in the world. Afterward, Wolobah felt so sick that the school nurse sent him home, where his condition deteriorated. His parents rushed him to the hospital, but there he was pronounced dead.
The family blames the chip as Wolobah told the school nurse he had eaten only that prior to feeling ill that day. Pending autopsy results, the family is already considering taking The Hershey Company (Amplify is a subsidiary of the multinational food company) to court.
Immediately after Wolobah’s death, Paqui’s One Chip Challenge website posted a prominent announcement on its webpage, stating that the company was pulling out its single-serve one chip challenge products from retailers’ shelves and offering refunds to those who bought them. The announcement also reminded readers that their product “is not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions,” and that the one chip challenge is intended only for adults.
Cheerios, a cereal killer?
In August 2018, a San Francisco jury awarded a terminally ill groundskeeper $250 million in punitive damages and $39 million in compensatory damages after he sued Monsanto, the manufacturer of the herbicide Roundup, saying that the glyphosate in the weed-killer caused his cancer.
Six days after the ruling against Monsanto, a Florida woman sued General Mills for failing to reveal the presence of glyphosate in their popular cereal product, Cheerios. The plaintiff, Mounira Doss, claimed that Cheerios tested positive for traces of glyphosate in a study commissioned by the advocacy group, Environmental Working Group (EWG). Out of 45 breakfast cereal samples, 31 had glyphosate levels exceeding the strict benchmark set by EWG, which is 160 parts per billion (ppb). Interestingly, the US Environmental Protection Agency has established a permissible limit of 30,000 ppb for glyphosate in grains.
But in June 2019, a Miami federal judge dismissed the complaint, stating that Doss failed to demonstrate how she was harmed. Even if the cereal contained glyphosate, the plaintiff failed to allege that she consumed it, which means she also couldn’t prove that her health had been affected.
Fans of General Mills cereals can bid cheerio to the lawsuit.
However, the 2018 ruling versus Monsanto can have a long-term effect on manufacturers. The bad press may have hurt the reputation of products with minute traces of glyphosate. If consumers no longer have faith in those products, then manufacturers may have to change their ingredients to ensure their products are glyphosate-free.
Here’s some food for thought
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