Some scientists, doctors, victims and advocates say this kind of injury would occur less often if the makers of instant soups used a safer cup. Certain containers are more likely to tip over than others, according to a 2006 analysis in the Journal of Burn Care & Research by Dr. David Greenhalgh, professor and chief of burn surgery at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine.
Of the 11 instant soup cups tested by Greenhalgh and his colleagues, Cup Noodles tied for the second most tip-prone design because of its height and narrow base. Researchers measured its tipping point at about 21 degrees, whereas the least tip-prone container tipped at about 64 degrees.
“The most significant contributor to the ease of tipping over was height,” the paper said. “Simple redesigning of instant soup packaging with a wider base and shorter height, along with the requirement for warnings about the risks of burns, would reduce the frequency of soup burns.”
Nissin Foods, the maker of Cup Noodles (formerly called Cup O’ Noodles), said its products carry prominent labels warning consumers to handle the hot soup with care, especially when serving it to children.
“Our hearts go out to children and families who have suffered burns of any type,” said the statement from Nissin, whose American headquarters is just outside Los Angeles in Rosemead, Calif. “We urge parents to never leave hot products of any kind in reach of their young children.”
The Jackson family’s complaint against the company acknowledges that the package included warnings about putting the cup in the microwave, the potentially high heat and the need to handle with care. But it also alleges that the design of the cup is “unsafe for its intended use because of its dimensions, including an overly narrow base.”
The soup’s label, it said, did not sufficiently warn “of its unstable design that significantly increased the risk that the Cup Noodles would tip over and/or spill with the potential for causing severe burns.”