S'porean woman, 34, suffers 2nd degree burns on thighs & pelvic area after Jollibean cup loses shape causing hot soya milk to spill on her

The woman said she was scalded after the cup instantly 'crumpled' when she wanted to take a sip.

Low Jia Ying | August 29, 2022, 01:29 PM

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A Singaporean woman was left with second degree burns on her thighs and pelvic area after the cup holding hot soya milk she purchased from Jollibean allegedly "crumpled", causing the contents inside to spill onto her.

The 34-year-old marketing professional said the scalding was so bad that it left her with intense pain for at least two weeks.

Visible scarring as a result of her injuries sustained are still visible more than three months after the incident occurred.

Cup crumpled when she wanted to take a sip

The woman told Mothership that she purchased a cup of hot soya milk from the Jollibean outlet at Bukit Timah Plaza on May 21, 2022.

Five minutes later, she left the shopping mall and got into a car with her husband.

While in the car, which was still in the car park and stationary at that time, she held the cup with both hands, intending to take a sip.

At this moment, she alleged that the cup "instantly crumpled" and its plastic lid popped off.

A third of the cup's contents spilled over onto her inner thighs and genital area.

As she was the passenger in the car, she could not escape the enclosed area in time and suffered second degree burns.

A photo of the cup in the aftermath of the incident showed that it was folded at the top when held.

The cup of soya milk that the woman purchased.

The woman said the cup has also remained in a deformed oval shape since the incident in May.

The woman said the cup has remained in this deformed oval shape since her incident in May.

She pointed out that the cup is also single-walled, and that the cup bends easily when pressed lightly.

The woman saw a doctor immediately after the incident, and was prescribed antibiotic cream and painkillers.

Over the next two weeks, the woman said she "could barely sleep, walk or shower without taking painkillers".

She also had to take time off work as she was in too much pain.

"Given that the burns were at a sensitive area, I could not wear any underwear as well," she added.

Photo taken four days after the incident.

Photo taken five days after the incident.

Scars six days after the incident.

The woman said she was left with visible scars from the incident, and that the scars are still visible when she wears shorts.

Photo taken eight days after incident.

She also said she suspected the cup was unable to hold its shape as the soya bean milk was too hot when served.

Soya milk served was above 80°C

On May 25, the woman wrote to Jollibean to seek an explanation about its product.

She said she approached the business as she wanted Jollibean to address two issues: The high temperature of the drink which was served to her, and that the cup appeared not to have the structural integrity to withstand the temperature of its contents.

She also wanted to seek "fair compensation" from Jollibean, which would cover the costs of scar removal or lightening.

She explained that she did not ask for her medical bills to be paid for by Jollibean as her company's insurance had already covered the costs.

The woman had also returned to the outlet on a few occasions to check if they had improved any of their operating procedures since the incident.

On May 30, the woman and her husband bought the same cup of soya milk and measured its temperature soon after purchasing it. They found it was above 80°C.

Temperature reading of hot soya milk purchased from Jollibean.

While Singapore does not set any guidelines on the temperature of hot drinks served to customers, a recommendation by two researchers in the U.S. stated that the ideal serving temperature for hot beverages should be between 54°C to 71°C.

Spills that occur at temperatures higher than 82°C are very likely to cause serious burns which will require medical attention, according to the authors.

Since the incident, the woman also noticed that the staff at the outlet had started to give verbal warnings to customers about how hot the drink was, and that they had also recently started serving their hot drinks in two layers of cups instead of one.

Hot soya milk served in two layers of cups on Aug. 20.

However, she noted that these measures were not in place at the time of her incident.

Jollibean will not compensate woman, said adequate measures were in place

The woman said she was unsatisfied with Jollibean's responses to her.

She said that Jollibean had initially sent her a brief "template apology", which she felt was not commensurate with what she experienced.

After some back and forth, Jollibean then said in their final reply to her that they would not be compensating her for her injuries, and that they were apologetic for how her complaint was handled.

In their reply, Jollibean also claimed that their staff had issued a verbal reminder that the drink was hot, and had properly secured the lid of the cup, which the woman said was not the case during her incident.

Jollibean's response

In response to queries from Mothership, Jollibean said:

"We are truly sorry to hear about the customer’s ordeal and have conducted an investigation immediately upon receipt of her complaint. Our investigation results showed that sufficient and adequate precautionary measures were taken by our outlet while handling the beverage. Our cups are up to standards, and our warning labels were all intact and present on the packaging when it was served.

Rest assured that all our customers‘ feedback does not go unnoticed. We treat all feedbacks and suggestions seriously and we have passed it on to the rest of the team for corrective measures."

Top photos via Benson Kong/Google Maps and Mothership reader