Denmark recalls popular Korean instant ramen noodles for being too spicy

Denmark has recalled three flavours of instant ramen noodles by South Korean company Samyang Foods, saying the high levels of capsaicin in the products could potentially poison customers.

Samyang Foods is famous for introducing instant noodles in Korea in 1963 and it offers a range of ramen noodles in different flavours.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration issued the recall on Tuesday, asking consumers to stop buying Samyang Buldak Hot Chicken Ramen 3x Spicy, Samyang Buldak Hot Chicken Ramen 2x Spicy and Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen Stew Type.

“The DTU Food Institute assesses that the levels of total capsaicin in a single pack of all three noodle products are so high that they pose a risk that the consumer develops acute poisoning,” Denmark’s food agency said in a statement.

“If you have the products, you should discard them or return them to the store where they were purchased.”

The agency advised parents to contact the “Poison Line” if their children showed any acute symptoms after eating the noodles.

“The quantity of hot chilli is even higher in the investigated noodles than in chilli chips, which have previously led to poisoning injuries among children in Germany,” said Henrik Dammand Nielsen, head of Chemistry and Food Quality Division at the agency.

The DTU Food Institute, which is part of the Technical University of Denmark, works to promote sustainable food production and focuses on food science and technology.

Three variants of the instant ramen noodle line recalled in Denmark (Danish Veterinary and Food Administration)
Three variants of the instant ramen noodle line recalled in Denmark (Danish Veterinary and Food Administration)

Samyang’s noodles have been used in the popular Fire Noodle Challenge, which began in 2014 and involves YouTubers trying to finish an entire serving of Samyang’s Buldak-Bokkeum-Myeon aka Korean Fire Noodles, which roughly translates to “hot stir-fried chicken noodles”.

According to Ramen Rater, the Buldak Hot Chicken Ramen 3x Spicy is at a 13,200 SHU on the Scoville scale, Buldak Hot Chicken Ramen 2x Spicy at 10,000 SHU, and the Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen Stew Type at 4,705.

For comparison, jalapeño pepper is 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, cayenne pepper is 30,000 to 50,000, and habanero pepper 100,000 to 350,000 SHU..

The Scoville scale indicates how spicy a food is by measuring the concentration of capsaicin.

Capsaicin, a chemical that produces the sensation of burning on contact with tissue, can be dangerous if consumed in high amounts. It can lead to severe health effects like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

The noodle recall has sparked a discussion online where most people are having a laugh at the Danes’ low tolerance for spice.

“I have family in Scandinavia and when we visited them, their response to black pepper was, ‘It burns like fire,’” said a commentator on a Reddit forum discussing the recall.