Caution With That Instant Noodles Cup Soup!

Caution With That Instant Noodles Cup Soup!

In the past few years, articles, studies and actually lawsuits have come out regarding, yes – Instant cups of soup. NPR did a piece on this that caught my attention in December of 2011. What, you ask, is the deal with that? The deal is that countless severe burns are incurred by children who accidentally dump over their cup of soup on them selves. Years after this article, little has changed. These burns are serious, not just cured with a little cold water and a kiss. We are talking about 2nd and 3rd degree burns requiring significant hospital stays. Often, a child with noodle burns will have to have one or more surgeries!

The Chicago Tribune interviewed Stroger Hospital spokeswoman Maris Kollias who reported 30 to 40 percent of children treated for burns at their hospital were burned by hot soup.

Why These Burns Are So Serious?

Noodle soup burns are more serious than water scalds, coffee scalds, and even the scalds of other soups. The reason, according the Journal of Burn Care & Research is that, while the temperatures of hot soups, water, coffee, etc. can be the same temperature as the noodles, the noodles have a cooling curve that is much slower. So noodles will hold their heat, stick to the skin, and cause much more serious burns than an amount of liquid of similar temperature and volume.

The other piece that makes noodle burns so serious is that children’s skin is thinner and more delicate. Not as much relative heat and time is required to cause serious burns to children’s skin. Pajamas, underwear and light clothes are of little help as they hold the heat next to the skin, especially if the cup spills down under their top or bottom clothing.


Andrew John Holland published an article in The Journal of the International Society for Burn Injuries (June 2012) that concurred, not only that significant burns are sustained by children from instant noodle soups, but that the children received inadequate burn first aid.

So let’s try to get everyone on the same page.

When someone is burned – Do the following:

  • immediately run cold water over the burn for at least 10 minutes.
  • You will need to look at a clock to measure your time as 10 minutes can seem like 10 years.
  • Decide if it’s serious enough to go to the ER. Any open wounds or any areas of blistered burns that are larger than the patient’s own hands are ER qualifications.
  • Any doubts should qualify an ER visit.
  • Don’t be afraid to call 911 if needed!

Please do not do the following:

  • Do not directly ice a burn.
  • Do not put butter, or anything greasy on a burn.
  • Do not put any ointment on a burn
  • Do not pop blisters (Yes dads, this means you)
  • Do not put any other condiments on a burn. We are not making sandwiches here.

All jokes aside – many of the “home remedies” (butter, etc.) passed down to us by loving parents and grandparents are loving, but not helpful.

Perhaps with better treatment, these burns can be lessened in their severity.

What’s Better Than Treatment? – PREVENTION!

While much effort has been made to prevent these instant cup noodles burns through design recommendations from physicians to lawsuits, to my knowledge, nothing significant has been changed in the re-design of these noodle soup packages. Another Journal of Burn Care & Research study by Greenhalgh, 2006 blame the packaging for the burns indicating the shape of a cup makes a huge difference. Greenhalgh shows that packaging that is shorter, have a wider bottom relative to it’s top, is much less likely to tip.


Instant Noodles can be REALLY DANGEROUS – as well as unfairly tasty. So let’s be careful. Regardless of the pressure to change packaging, packaging hasn’t changed.

  • Let’s take the contents out of those spilly packages and put them into stable bowls for eating. Yes, that’s something else to wash, but it just takes a sec to wash a bowl.
  • Let’s keep an eye on our little ones while they are eating. Not only are we worried about burns, but choking is the second leading cause of death for children in the US!
  • If that bowl spills, and some of them will. Get cold water running on the burn right away. Proper first aid can make a difference!