Final week, Nissin introduced that it was updating the design of its iconic Cup Noodles in early 2024. As a substitute of polystyrene, it’ll be made out of paper. Nissin additionally notes that because of the brand new packaging, its Cup Noodles will now be microwaveable. As in, you have been by no means imagined to be microwaving Cup Noodles.
Because it seems, many individuals haven’t been studying labels when heating up Cup Noodles — a staple of school dorms, kitchen pantries, and lots of childhood reminiscences. On social media, a number of folks have been shocked to discover the unique Cup Noodles have been by no means meant for the microwave. Others are equally baffled that individuals have been microwaving Cup Noodles regardless of the the label clearly saying “Don’t microwave.”
To be truthful, among the confusion could also be particular to Nissin — the OG instantaneous noodle model — and this sort of cup noodle. There’s a veritable cornucopia of instantaneous noodle manufacturers and containers. Some are microwavable and have been for a very long time. All of it will depend on the directions on the label.
One other supply of confusion can also be the devices that we maintain in our properties. For example, electrical kettles should not as frequent within the US as in Japan, the place instantaneous noodles have been invented, or Europe. Yours actually grew up in an Asian American family the place we microwaved instantaneous noodles at house and used kettles once we visited household abroad. (And sure, I — and my whole household — have microwaved Cup Noodles for years previous to this impolite awakening.)
However no, you’re not imagined to microwave polystyrene until it comes with a microwave-safe label. Polystyrene is a well-liked meals container as a result of it’s mild, low-cost to make, and works nicely as an insulator to maintain meals heat. Nonetheless, when heated, analysis reveals substances inside the polystyrene can leach into your food. The primary trigger for concern is styrene, which may impact the nervous system and is a possible carcinogen.
That stated, you shouldn’t essentially freak out in the event you have microwaved Cup Noodles previously. Most research of whether or not styrene causes most cancers deal with individuals who work with the fabric, so extra analysis must be performed to see if there’s a hyperlink with meals containers. Just a few cases of microwaving Cup Noodles aren’t prone to trigger noticeable hurt, however the impact of doing it persistently over time isn’t identified — and might be higher to keep away from going ahead.
Microwaving polystyrene additionally compromises the structural integrity of Cup Noodles and may result in burns if the container cracks. Just lately, UChicago Medication’s Burn and Wound Middle published a study that found a 3rd of childhood burns have been brought on by instantaneous noodles. Extra particularly, the examine’s authors stated in a press release that the burns typically occurred attributable to “inadvertent spills when eradicating containers from the microwave, together with spills whereas consuming because of the slim bases of instantaneous noodle cups.”
However Nissin notes that the up to date packaging is largely, a “key step in our environmental dedication.” On prime of being microwavable, the cup will now be made with 40 p.c recycled fiber, not embrace plastic wraps, and have a 100% recycled paper sleeve. Polystyrene isn’t easily recycled, and native governments have taken measures to ban the material lately.
On the plus facet, the brand new microwavable Cup Noodles additionally gained’t make you wait for 3 minutes. The brand new design will “not require boiling water,” which means you may shave 45 seconds off the heating time.