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Why are warning labels so important?

It seems incredibly rare that we purchase products that do not come with warning labels. And often, these warnings make complete sense. Hair dryers warn us not to sleep with them on; furniture pieces warn us to anchor them to the wall so they don’t topple over; lawn mowers warn us not to stick our hands in the spinning blades.

However, even when these warnings seem unnecessary, they are critical in keeping consumers safer. And when such warnings are not effective in preventing accidents, it can prompt companies to change their product or packaging.

Instant soup design: a heated issue

As an example of warning labels that may not go far enough in protecting consumers, we can look at instant noodle soup.

These popular food items come with warnings that the product is hot and should be handled with care. However, as a recent report found, about 9,500 children receive emergency care for burns from soup every year. Soup accounts for about 1 in 5 pediatric burns.

In other words, the warnings may simply not be enough to protect consumers from injury. Companies can do more to keep people – especially children – safe from injury. For instance, soup makers could change packaging and designs to make the containers more stable and less likely to tip over. As it is, some of the most popular types of instant soup are made from flimsy, flexible material. Many come in tall, skinny containers that tip over much more easily than short, wide containers.

When a label is the basis for liability

Inadequate warning labels and unnecessarily dangerous packaging are issues that companies can address. Doing so could shield them from liability claims, as injured victims could file product liability claims if a product or labels are defective.

Currently, there are no formal actions requiring instant soup companies to issue a recall or change packaging or the warnings. This means that thousands of children and adults will continue to suffer serious burns. In these situations, it could be wise to consider the legal options available as well as the potential for seeking compensation for damages.