Report: Some instant soups pose serious burn risks

In the winter time, there’s nothing better than a hot cup of soup. However, some instant soups get so hot that they can cause serious burn injuries, especially to children, the Boston Globe recently reported.

Instant soups that come in plastic foam cups have been all over the news lately after an investigative report by National Public Radio exposed the burn risks caused by packaging that has been around for years, but has never been properly addressed by manufacturers.

The director of the burn unit at University of Southern California’s County Hospital in Los Angeles was interviewed by NPR and said that he sees “at least two to three patients a week who’ve been injured by these products,” and young children are the most common victims.

The director added that about one in five children who he sees because of burns resulting from instant soup needs surgery, and many end up with permanent nerve damage. For this reason, the director said he doesn’t recommend the soups.

The problem is that noodles submerged in hot liquids are able to hold their heat and cling to the skin. Therefore, when a child spills a hot cup of noodles in his lap, the burns can be much more serious than if hot coffee or water had been spilled.

NPR interviewed about a dozen burn units across the country and found that they all saw at least a few children come in with burns caused by instant soup spills each week. NPR also pointed to a study conducted five years ago that showed a simple packaging redesign could help eliminate the risk of burns.

Cup O Soup brands are the most well-known instant soups at issue. Nissin Foods, which manufactures the soups, said in an email to the Boston Globe that they “take all comments and complaints about [their] products and packaging seriously,” and they are looking into the allegations made in the NPR report.

Of course, any manufacturer that puts a dangerous product on the market could face products liability lawsuits brought by those who have been injured. This would especially be true if the manufacturer knew or had reason to know that the product was dangerous, but continued to offer it anyway.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Burn doctors warn against risk from instant soups,” Deborah Kotz, Dec. 5, 2011