Super-spicy ramen noodles recalled in Denmark over health risks

On social media, kids (and plenty of adults) often challenge one another to eat super-spicy foods in feats of nose-running, eye-watering endurance. But Danish authorities are warning about the potential health risks of some of the hottest ramen noodles popular in such videos, and recently issued a recall of three varieties of instant noodles for containing too-high levels of capsaicin.

The Danish officials pulled from shelves Buldak 3x Spicy & Hot Chicken, 2x Spicy & Hot Chicken and Hot Chicken Stew, all made by the South Korea-based brand Samyang, and urged people who had purchased them to toss them in the trash or return them to the store. They cautioned that those products each contained a higher level of spice than the chips that had reportedly sickened several children in Germany.

It is unclear whether those chips are the same as the one that a Massachusetts teenager died after eating while participating in the viral “One Chip Challenge” at school. An autopsy later revealed that the boy died of a heart attack “in the setting” of ingesting high levels of capsaicin, and that he had underlying heart problems. Paqui, the maker of the chip — which came packaged in a coffin-shaped box — quickly discontinued it.

The Danish regulators noted in an statement accompanying the recall that children and “frail adults” are particularly vulnerable and that symptoms of capsaicin poisoning can include “burning and discomfort, nausea, vomiting and high blood pressure.”

The ban on the ramen noodles was prompted by a consumer who wondered why the products were legal. “The DTU Food Institute has now assessed the products, and the conclusion is that the noodle packets are harmful to health,” the statement reads. Anyone who had already eaten the product and had not suffered a bad reaction was fine, they said. But the officials urged anyone with symptoms to contact poison control.

An email to Samyang seeking comment was not immediately returned. “We understand that the Danish food authority recalled the products, not because of a problem in their quality but because they were too spicy,” the company told the BBC.

While spicy-food-eating challenges have been around for decades, their rising popularity online — and particularly among young people, who are among the most vulnerable to potential negative side effects — has worried health officials and parents.

There have been other reports of U.S. children being sickened by the Paqui chips, with complaints of vomiting, eye irritation, difficulty breathing and other symptoms. Late last year, Czech officials halted the production in that country of a similar chip product that was sold with a pair of rubber gloves for handling.

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