Viral 'Shell-On' Challenge Is Encouraging Kids to Eat Food With Packaging On—Here's Why It's So Dangerous

We’ve seen no shortage of dangerous internet “challenges” making the rounds over the past few years. From the “Tide Pod Challenge” (eating a Tide laundry detergent pod) to the “Hot Water Challenge” (pouring hot water on yourself or drinking it through a straw), there are plenty of online trends that have kids risking their lives for a few extra likes.

Just when we thought that kids were finally learning the dangers of internet challenges, another harmful one has cropped up. While it may not be as dangerous as swallowing laundry detergent, the “shell-on challenge,” which has kids attempting to eat food with its packaging still on, has its own risky list of consequences.

According to ABC Action News, some of the social media posts involving this challenge have included kids eating a sandwich inside a plastic bag, baby carrots inside the packaging, and a lemon with the rind still on.

It’s unclear exactly when this trend started, but it seems to have gained popularity over the past week on social media. There have already been dozens of videos shared across the internet of kids pursuing this dangerous feat. In a video posted on April 15, one teen recorded himself eating a banana with the peel still on and biting the cardboard on a box of cereal.

Another video on Instagram shows a girl at a school lunch table taking a bite out of a banana with the peel still on.

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While it’s a no-brainer that eating non-edible materials is bad for your body, Andrew Bernstein, MD, a pediatrician at North Suburban Pediatrics in Evanston, Illinois and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, tells Health exactly why the trend is so detrimental to the body.

“Eating food with packaging still on could be dangerous for a number of reasons,” says Dr. Bernstein. “Packaging is meant partly to keep food germ-free and safe from the surrounding environment. If packaging is eaten, there may be dangerous bacteria or chemicals on the outside packaging that could be toxic or could otherwise make someone sick. Additionally, packaging is not designed to be digested and could cause damage or obstruction to internal organs.”

Hopefully, kids and teens will learn the effects of these less-than-safe internet trends and stop promoting them across social media.

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