Food authorities in Denmark have recalled three types of spicy instant noodle products imported from South Korea over possible risks for “acute poisoning.” Consumers are asked to discard them or return the noodles to the retailer.

The noodles are made by Seoul-based Samyang Foods, one of South Korea’s largest companies, and sold across the globe. The recalled noodles include Buldak Samyang 3 x Spicy & Hot Chicken, Buldak Samyang 2 x Spicy & Hot Chicken and Buldak Samyang Hot Chicken Stew.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration said the products contain an overly high dose of capsaicin, an active ingredient in chile peppers but also a chemical that can be a neurotoxin and a health hazard.

Children and teenagers in Denmark have been daring each other on social media to eat “a strong bowl of noodle soup,” referring to the three South Korean products, the agency said.

“The noodle dishes marketed as extremely strong must no longer be sold because consumers and especially children risk acute poisoning,” it said late Tuesday. “The capsaicin content is so high that it can pose a health hazard.”

Children and frail adults and the elderly are at risk, said Henrik Dammand Nielsen of the Danish Food and Drug Administration. Possibly symptoms include burning and discomfort, nausea, vomiting and high blood pressure, he said.

“That is why we are now demanding shops remove the products from their shelves,” the agency said.

In a statement to reporters, Samyang said it understands that the steps taken in Denmark were not based on product quality issues but because local authorities thought “they were too spicy and could potentially cause problems.”

The company said the same noodles are exported worldwide but it was the first time they were ordered to recall them in any market.

“We will closely study local regulations while responding to this recall measure,” the company said.

Spicy food challenges have been around for years. From local chile pepper eating contests to restaurant walls of fame for those who finished extra hot dishes, people around the world have been daring each other to eat especially fiery foods.

In September, a Massachusetts teen with a congenital heart defect who participated in a spicy tortilla chip challenge on social media died from eating a large quantity of chile pepper extract. An autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press showed that the 10th grader died on Sept. 1, 2023, after eating the Paqui chip as part of the manufacturer’s “One Chip Challenge.”

In Denmark, a puzzled consumer reached out to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and asked how the instant noodles could be legal, the agency said, after which it had a lab assessing the products and determined the three noodle brands can be harmful to health, instigating the recall.

“It is important that parents are aware of the extreme noodle varieties and avoid them, Dammand Nielsen said.

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