The Snapchat trend – known as ‘Shell On’ – has so far encouraged children to consume unpeeled lemons, bite into carrots through the plastic bag or munch on cereal through the cardboard outer-layer.
They then post videos of them completing the challenge on the popular social media app.
Medical experts have warned that while consuming packaging shouldn’t kill you, digesting anything that isn’t food could have a detrimental long-term effect on your body.
“Organic material like fruit peels are typically not dangerous. Zest is often used in recipes (lemon zest) which is the shavings of the rind,” Max Plitt, a doctor, told The New York Post.
“Eating plastic, on the other hand, can be dangerous. BPA has been suggested to influence hormones. Chemicals in PVC like vinyl chloride have been linked to cancers.”
Andrew Bernstein, a paediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested packaging could contain “toxic” germs which it had been designed to protect food from.
“Packaging is meant partly to keep food germ-free and safe from the surrounding environment,” he told Health.
“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.”
What is the ‘Shell On’ challenge?
The ‘Shell On challenge’ follows in the footsteps of the equally-bizarre and risky ‘Tide Pod challenge’ – which involved eating laundry detergent pods – and the ‘Hot Water challenge’, where people poured hot water over themselves or drank it through a straw.
It is unclear where it began, but the trend has gained popularity at an alarmingly fast pace on Snapchat over the past fortnight.
One teenager has been seen eating an unpeeled banana, while another consumed cereal through a cardboard box.
Liam Hamm, a student at McClintock High School in Tempe, Arizona, bit through a plastic bag of carrots.
He captioned the clip shared to Snapchat: “Ya’ll eat your lunch with or without the shell.”
The teen told Arizona Republic that he’s seen lots of others participating in the craze and added: “It just looks funny because it’s not really a shell, but people are calling things shells.
“I guess that is what’s funny about it.”