Denmark Recalls a Popular Instant Ramen for Extreme Spice Levels

There’s something too spicy in the state of Denmark.
Instant noodles can bring instant pain.
Instant noodles can bring instant pain. / Carlo A/Moment via Getty Images

Does spicy food require government intervention? Denmark seems to think so. The country’s food agency recently issued a recall on a popular brand of instant ramen noodles from South Korea, alleging it’s simply too hot for the Danes.

According to the BBC, a line of ramen from the Samyang company is under fire for what the agency considers to be dangerously high levels of capsaicin, the chili pepper compound that provides heat. Denmark’s Veterinary and Food Administration said in a statement that the capsaicin might be enough to “poison” consumers. Three specific flavors were noted: Buldak 3x Spicy and Hot Chicken, 2x Spicy and Hot Chicken, and Hot Chicken Stew. Consumers in Denmark who purchased the products can return them to the store for a refund.

“Chili in large quantities poses a risk to children and frail adults in particular,” Henrik Dammand Nielsen of the VFA said. “Possible symptoms include burning and discomfort, nausea, vomiting and high blood pressure. That is why we are now demanding that the shops remove the products from their shelves.”

But Samyang doesn’t appear to agree: The product is distributed internationally with no issues reported elsewhere. “We understand that the Danish food authority recalled the products, not because of a problem in their quality but because they were too spicy,” a spokesperson told the BBC. “The products are being exported globally. But this is the first time they have been recalled for the above reason.”

The Samyang spicy noodles are widely available in the United States. On Amazon, the 3x Spicy noodles have over 90,000 mostly positive reviews.

“Very tasty spicy noodles and it is probably on the limit of my spicy tolerance,” one reviewer wrote. “It is very enjoyable, but I have these on an occasion when I am feeling hungry and masochistic at the same time. You can use half the sauce if you want less pain, but I usually use the whole sachet so that tears and sweat are streaming down my face.”

In the U.S, Samyang’s hot flavors have garnered notoriety on social media channels for their intense spice, which may be as high as 8000 to 12,000 units on the Scoville scale used to measure heat—that’s roughly the same as a jalapeño pepper. Denmark’s food agency cited online food challenges as cause for concern and stated that some children in Germany had been hospitalized for consuming very spicy chips.

Consumption of capsaicin has been under closer scrutiny recently following the death of 14-year-old Harris Wolobah in Massachusetts in September 2023. Wolobah died from cardiopulmonary arrest after consuming a single chip from manufacturer Paqui; the chip was made from peppers that measure between 1.4 and 1.7 million Scoville units. Wolobah was determined to have a congenital heart defect, and an autopsy cited ingestion of the chip as a contributing factor to his death. His passing led to calls for further research on how capsaicin affects the cardiovascular system.

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