Instant soups pose risk for scald burns in children

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Nov. 2, 2018

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Holly Korschun
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hkorsch@emory.edu

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Microwavable soup products may be easy to prepare, but risky for children.

Microwavable instant soup and noodle products cause nearly 10,000 scald burns each year – nearly one out of every five such burns that send children to emergency rooms each year, according to research being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2018 National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando.

An abstract of the study, “Instant Soup Scald Injuries in Children,” will be presented on Monday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. in the Plaza International Ballroom at the Orange County Convention Center.

The research suggests these microwavable, prepackaged products may be quick, but also dangerous for children to prepare.

“Scald burns are a major cause of preventable injury among children, and our research found that instant soup spills are responsible for a large number of these painful burns,” says Courtney Allen, DO, who conducted the study with colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.

The researchers examined National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data from 2006 to 2016 to identify pediatric patients whose scald burns were caused by either microwavable instant soup, instant noodles, cup of soup, or water for making instant soup. They determined scald burns related to instant soups and noodles affect more than 9,500 children between ages 4 and 12 years annually.

The peak age for instant soup spill injuries, Allen and her colleagues determined, was seven years old. They also found that the most commonly burned area of the body was a child’s torso-comprising 40 percent of the injuries.

“Instant soups and noodles in prepackaged cups and bowls may seem simple to prepare just by adding water and microwaving them,” Allen says. “But once they’re heated up they become a dangerous burn risk. Caregivers need to closely supervise younger children who might otherwise get hurt if cooking for themselves.”

In addition, Allen says, the food product industry may consider structural changes to packaging to prevent injuries, making them more difficult to tip over, for example.