As your children grow, they become subject to peer pressure. Other kids challenge them to do things, sometimes silly and harmless, other times what may seem like harmless or even good-natured fun could actually cost your child their life. Food dares, a growing trend among today’s youth have even “good kids” getting in on the act.

Why? Because they wrongly believe that because what they’ll be ingesting is food that it could not possibly pose them any threat.

One of the latest dares facing teens today is one involving soy sauce. Like the Cinnamon Challenge, this popular dare seems innocent enough but comes with serious risks. A favored condiment, soy sauce (a combination of soy, wheat, water, and salt) is often found in Asian cuisine and is something many of us sprinkle liberally on our food — but when ingested in large quantities, this same fermented flavor enhancer could send your child to the ER.

The Dare

A non-specific challenge, soy sauce challengers are not given a clarification as to an exact quantity to ingest in order to “win” the challenge. Typically, the dare is offered as “Drink as much soy sauce as you can.” YouTube’s proliferation of unmonitored Food Dare Challenge videos, often with a plenty of laughing onlookers, seem to encourage teens to participate in this kind of risky behavior.

A Recent Case

In June of this year, a 19-year-old boy found himself with the dubious distinction of being the first documented case to have overdosed deliberately on an excess amount of salt and survived without lasting damage, after drinking nearly a quart of soy sauce. The young man’s friends took him to the hospital when they noticed he had begun having seizures. After a three-day coma, the boy regained consciousness. He was lucky to have escaped with his life and without any long-term neurological damage.

A similar case occurred in 2011 as part of a fraternity pledge at the University of Virginia.

The Danger

The condition caused by this over-ingestion of soy sauce is called hypernatremia, a medical condition resulting from an excessive amount of salt in the bloodstream which can cause the brain to lose water, shrink, and bleed.

What most people don’t know is that a salt dose ranging from 0.75 grams to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight has the potential to kill you. For a bit of perspective — a tablespoon of salt weighs roughly 15 grams.

So What Can You Do to Protect Your Kids?

As parents our job is to protect our children from harm. There’s no way you can possibly cover every single risk in the world, but when a new trend like this arises, it’s a good idea to not ignore it.

1. Don’t make assumptions. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Never assume your child is too young, old, or smart to try this dare.

2. Don’t under estimate the influence of peer pressure.

3. Educate your child. Take the time to tell your child about the soy sauce challenge and the potential dangers. Share the story about the 19-year-old teen so they know the risk is a reality.