Instant Cup of Soup Products Cause Severe Burns and Permanent Damage to Young Children
Instant soups, sold in Styrofoam cups, pose a serious risk to consumers, and children in particular. Major hospitals treat serious burns resulting from spilled instant soup cups on a regular basis. Children and toddlers are the most frequent victims of these burns, because they are more likely to spill the product than adults. Cup of soup burns can be very serious; interviewed for a recent NPR news story, the head of the burn unit at a large hospital in L.A. estimated that 20% of instant cup of soup burns require surgery. Permanent nerve damage can result from cup of soup burns. Instant soup burns are generally more serious than burns resulting from hot beverage spills, due to the fact that noodles trap heat more effectively than liquids do and the compounding factor that noodles stick to the skin and prolong the burn time.
Instant soup products, which are popular around the world and are often referred to as “cups of soup”, are typically sold in individually packaged Styrofoam cups. The product contains dried noodles, seasonings, and sometimes dried vegetables. Water (hot or cold, depending on the particular brand of instant soup cup) is poured into the cup, and then the cup is heated in the microwave. When heated according to directions on cup of soup product labels, the product is a steaming cup filled with hot broth and noodles. Instant soup cups come in a variety of shapes; the cups that are most prone to tipping are the tall, narrow cups.
Cup Design Flaws Cause Cup of Soup Burns
The high number of burns resulting from instant soup cup products led one group of researchers to study the causes of such burns between 1997 and 2004. The study, “Instant cup of soup: design flaws increase risk of burns”, published in 2006 in the Journal of Burn Care and Research, concluded that cup design was to blame for a vast number of cup of soup burn incidents. The study analyzed the size of various instant soup cups, and the relative angle of tipping that caused a spill.
Cup of soup products sold in tall, narrow cups were revealed to be the most dangerous of these products, because even a slight bump would lead to a spill. Lower, wider instant soup cups are more stable and are less likely to tip over. As part of the study, the researchers stated that instant soup cup “containers can be designed to minimize the risk of spilling.” The study recommended simple cup redesigns that manufacturers of instant cup of soup products could implement to prevent a majority of instant soup burns.
Cup of Soup Burns Persist
Since these recommendations were made in 2006, there have been very few design changes to make instant cup of soup products more safe. Cup of soup burns are still a regular occurrence at hospitals throughout the country, and toddlers and young children are the primary victims. Cup of soup burns cause severe pain and lasting injuries that could largely be avoided if simple design changes were made to cup of soup containers.