Our firm recently has taken on cases of serious burns and other horrific injuries caused by cooking with a 1940s kitchen standard—the pressure cooker. Tristar’s Power Pressure Cooker XL is marketed as being a safe, but explosions are sending consumers across the country to the hospital when defective safety locks fail and an eruption of scalding steam and boiling liquid showers the cooks.
These big pots with steam valves in the lids, first invented in 1679 by a French physicist, were a must-have during World War II for tenderizing meats and cooking up stews. They surfaced again during the 1970s when vegetarian meals were popular, and these days are often featured on television cooking shows. There are currently more than a million pressure cookers in use in the United States; the Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL is sold in big-box stores and department stores such as Walmart, Sears, JC Penney, and Costco, and is easily available on the Internet.
Tristar touts its built-in safety features, including a safe lock lid with manual steam release, and advises users to simply set the timer to produce a healthy, delicious meal. Here is what one of its Internet advertisements says:
Thanks to its incredible flavor infusion technology, the Power Pressure Cooker XL traps super-heated steam inside the pot. This high-pressure environment forces liquid and moisture into your food, locking in intense flavor and nutrients. The best part is the intelligent one-touch settings for meat, fish, vegetables, beans, rice, soup or stews. Making your special beef stew pressure cooker recipes? Just push the Stew button, and the pressure cooker does the rest!
But when any one of these safety features is defective and does not work properly, the pressure cooker becomes a ticking time bomb. In the past two years, numerous complaints have been filed with the US Consumer Product Safety Commissions and lawsuits are being pursued against Tristar. In addition to the severe burn injuries themselves, victims are citing extensive scarring and skin discoloration long after these injuries have healed.
Here is how a pressure cooker works:
- Liquid such as water, wine, or broth is added to the contents of the pressure cooker pot and the sealed, air-tight lid is secured.
- As the pressure rises, the temperature of the water and steam inside the sealed pot (the pressure cooker) also rises above the normal 212ºF boiling point temperature and can go as high as 250 degrees Fahrenheit. (The higher the pressure, the shorter the cooking)
- A safety lock lid is supposed to make it impossible to remove the lid while the pot is still pressurized.
- Other safety features, such as sensor controls and steam release valves that permit manual release, are supposed to prevent pressure and steam from blowing off the lid and burning consumers.
Even in light of all of the customer complaints being made, Tristar still has not recalled its pressure cooker. Tristar knows about the injuries that its exploding appliances have caused, but the company continues to sell the dangerous product at stores all over the nation.
As we continue to investigate the Tristar pressure cooker and to seek justice for unsuspecting victims, we will learn more about how to prevent these sudden, terrifying explosions. In the meantime, consumers should be aware of the risk of serious harm to themselves and their families. Anyone with questions or injuries they have sustained from this product are welcome to call me at our West Palm Beach office at 561-686-6300.