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“Ramen” or instant soup is a highly popular snack for students all over the world, more so in the United States. Not just students, it’s highly popular for its cheapness, taste, and accessibility. You can get it from almost anywhere and it’s super easy to make. However, there’s evidence to suggest that instant soup is bad for young children.

According to the new research, the soups are responsible for causing one in five childhood scald burns. This really comes as a big surprise as these products are highly common and are consumed at a very large scale. It raises the question of whether these meals are safe or not and given how common they are, parents should know what to avoid in order to protect their children.

Image: Amazon

Image: Amazon

Dr. Courtney Allen, a pediatric emergency fellow at Emory University led the research. She said:

“It’s important for us to remember, and for parents to remember, that these are just thin containers with boiling water in them,”
“I think there’s an assumption that these are safer than soups coming out of a stove,” she also added: “when, in fact, they’re not.”

11 years of records were examined

Dr. Allen and her team went through a lot of records before arriving at their conclusion. They looked at over 4500 pediatric scald burns in an 11-year period in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The system which they looked at is a database that keeps a track of all consumer product-related injuries. After they had gotten the data of burn victims, they looked up keywords such as “instant noodles”, “instant soup” etc. and looked at data for children aged between 4 and 12.

The researchers found that a staggering 21.5% of children from their sample suffered burns due to microwaved products. It’s estimated that instant soups are responsible for nearly 10,000 pediatric burns a year in the US. Another interesting thing found by the researchers was that among the children that were affected, 90% of them were discharged early by doctors after evaluation.

This is alarming because scald burns are not to be taken lightly. They can require hospitalization or even surgery depending on the severity. Dr. David Greenhalgh, chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California and former president of the American Burn Association had this to say:

“To be honest with you, it’s a very, very common story,”
“They knock [the soup] over, and it spills onto their lap,”
“They may have to come into the hospital for a while, or we teach the family how to take care of the burn, or some kids need skin grafts. But I am not surprised.”
There can be multiple causes for children suffering from burns due to instant soup. For example, children can be careless, so a spill while walking or eating wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Whatever the case is, Dr. Allen argues that parents should be extra careful when letting their children handle soups like that.
“If you’re going to let your children independently cook, carry and consume these products, they do need adequate supervision.”

Should the product itself be blamed?

According to Greenhalgh, poor product design is also to blame. These microwavable products often come in flimsy paper or styrofoam cups, they are not stable containers at all for boiling water. He said:

“What [companies] should do is make them like the Yoplait [yogurt] containers, where they’re wider at the bottom and thinner at the top,” 
“It would be a very simple thing to design and change.”

Although parents have to be more cautious when letting their children handle something as dangerous as hot soup, the manufacturers should be held equally accountable for not making safe containers. The latest study conducted by Dr. Allen should serve as a call for change amongst manufacturers in order to ensure safety against burns.

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