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‘Planet Money’ Warning: Instant Soup Burns Kids

I’m not exactly sure why the “Planet Money” crew are writing about soup burns, but it’s definitely soup season and they’re great at explaining just about anything.

By the sound of it, steaming instant soup causes bad burn injuries far more often than you might expect, particularly to children, and the risk varies by brand because of cup design. Listen to or read their full segment, “Why burn doctors hate instant soup,” here. It begins:

Instant cups of soup — the kind that often come in a Styrofoam cup full of noodles — send children to the hospital every day.

“I don’t have them in my house,” says Dr. Warren Garner, director of the burn unit at University of Southern California’s County Hospital in Los Angeles. “I would say that we see at least two to three patients a week who’ve been injured by these products.”

These soups are dangerous because of the way the cups are designed. The cups are tall, lightweight, and have an unstable base that makes them tip over easily. At Garner’s unit, the most common cases are small children, often toddlers, accidentally tipping the cup over on to themselves.

And Garner’s unit is no exception:

Through calls to a dozen burn units at hospitals across the country, we learned that this is a common phenomenon, with children being the most frequent victims. Eight of the 12 hospitals said they see the injury several times a week. One hospital located in Washington D.C. says they regularly see 5-6 patients a week with the injury, especially during the colder months.