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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Warning over eggs in microwaves
Microwave oven
Microwaves need warning labels
Doctors are calling for clear warnings on microwave ovens after a girl's eye was damaged by exploding food.

The nine-year-old was hit in the face by flying fragments of a boiled egg that was reheated in a microwave.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, a doctor says warnings should be displayed directly on the oven.

Safety experts say clearer warnings would be welcome, but urged parents to teach their children about the potential dangers of microwaves.

The girl had reheated the previously boiled egg - with an intact shell - using a domestic microwave oven at full power for about 40 seconds.

The heated egg was removed from the oven and placed in a bowl.

It exploded 30 seconds later as she was carrying the bowl to the dining room, hitting her in the face and her right eye.

She suffered a perforated cornea and rupture of the lens capsule, leaving her vision so impaired she could see nothing more than hand movements.

Unless people are educated about the dangers, we may see more of these cases
Saurabh Goyal, ophthalmic surgeon
Saurabh Goyal, the surgeon who treated the girl at London's King's College Hospital, said her injuries were so serious she could have permanently lost her sight.

However, following two operations to repair the cornea and insert a plastic lens, the girl has made a full recovery.

Mr Goyal felt the need to highlight his concerns in a letter published in the British Medical Journal.

Speaking to BBC News Online, he said: "Unless people are educated about the dangers, we may see more of these cases.

"There should be more education and proper warnings on microwaves.

"The warnings in product instruction manuals are not clear and may be one paragraph in 30 pages.

"The warnings need to be more prominent in the manuals or on the front door of a microwave."

Parental control

In their instruction manuals, manufacturers of microwave ovens warn against heating eggs with an intact shell and recommend multiple piercing before cooking or heating eggs, even those already boiled.

However, Mr Goyal is concerned that some people do not read the manuals.

Experts at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) say the number of people involved in accidents using microwave ovens has risen.

The total number of accidents recorded in 2002 was 2,700, compared to 1,800 in 1998 - half of these involved burns from hot liquids.

Rospa spokesman Roger Vincent said: "We always say that if manufacturers can find ways of improving advice we welcome that.

"We want to encourage them to make that information easier to access but the individual also has a responsibility.

"Parents need to be sure their children are aware of the dangers of using microwaves."

He stressed that parents should not let their children use microwaves if they do not think they are competent.

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