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December 22, 2021

Poor product design a threat to children: report

Here's a 'don't run with scissors' story that your mother would love. It seems the latest household hazard isn’t dropped cigarettes or kids playing with matches. It's actually lunch.

Still have a fondness for those cheap instant noodles that got you through school? Well, you better get over it. They could land you in the hospital with serious burns, thanks to the cups' designs.

Brands vary but most cups are tall, lightweight, and have an unstable base, according to NPR's Planet Money blog, making them more likely to tip over and do some sertious damage.

NPR contacted burn units at several different hospitals and found most victims of instant noodle burns weren't frugal college students at all, but mostly poorly-supervised children.

One Washington D.C. hospital said during colder months they can see up to 6 kids a week with a severe soup-related burn.

Noodle soup is perfect for causing serious burns, says NPR, largely because the noodles conduct and retain heat longer than other foods, and are sticky, allowing the noodles to cling to the skin, causing serious deep burns.

Stupid parents? Poor product design? Perhaps, but more likely corporate indifference, says one Washington legal firm, who argues that the companies know about the design flaws but are simply more willing to write cheques to burn victims rather than deal with such product safety issues.

Here's the rationale, they suggest: How much would it cost to settle with every person burned by our product who sues us? How much would it cost to redesign our container, and then implement the new manufacturing process for that container?

It's not just about noodles, of course. Here's a long list of ongoing product liability/malpractice suits. Some seem frivolous but others seem legit. 

Have you been injured this way or by another consumer product? Did you even think of complaining or suing the manufacturer? Any success?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...