The modern-day version of the pressure cooker dates to 17th-century France. Invented by Denis Papin, a physicist noted for working the steam power, the “steam digester” increased water’s boiling point, resulting in faster cooking times. The product’s history continues through World War II, when it helped feed U.S. troops, and into the post-war period, when home appliances rolled out of factories and into U.S. homes. It widely was used in the 1970s, when vegetarian meals became popular.
Today, the device is sold in such stores as Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Macy’s, Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma, and online. Some have Bluetooth technology and are smart devices that can be controlled remotely. Their price tags range from $100 to $300, depending on the bells and whistles. Not only are they available and affordable, they also are efficient for families during the dinner hour – that is until they explode in the kitchen.
At least six brands of pressure cookers have harmed consumers and been pulled off the market. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, those brands are The Fast Slow Cooker by Breville, Instant Pot by Double Insight, Smart Series by Manttra, Ultrex by Fagor for HSN, PC501 by Welbilt for QVC and Rochedo by Alcan Aluminio Do Brasil. Here is what the commission has to say about each :
“The sealing gasket can be incorrectly inserted upside down on the lid which can allow the unexpected release of built-up pressure. This poses a risk of burns to the user or consumers nearby. Breville USA has received five reports of steam or hot contents escaping from the pressure cooker, resulting in five reports of burns, including second degree burns to the hands, arms or stomach.”
“The thermal probe in the base can conduct electricity throughout the cooker, posing a risk of electric shock. The firm has received reports from three consumers of being shocked while using the pressure cooker.”
“If the pressure cookers are not closed properly, the lid can separate and allow hot contents to spill out. This poses a risk of burns to consumers. Manttra has received two reports of hot contents spilling out of the pressure cookers, resulting in minor burn injuries.
“The pressure cooker’s lid can open while its contents are under pressure, allowing the hot contents to be expelled and causing burn injuries to bystanders. HSN has received two reports of injuries which involve second and third degree burns to the upper arm and an unspecified burn injury.
“The lid on these pressure cookers can open prematurely while contents are under pressure, and hot contents can be expelled posing a burn hazard. QVC has no known reports of consumer incidents or injuries associated with this product. QVC is voluntarily implementing this recall based on 43 reports of failure incidents, including 37 reports of burn injuries, reported by another retailer that sold the same model Welbilt electronic pressure cooker. The known burn injuries include various degrees of burns, including at least four third degree burns.”
“The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Alcan Aluminio Do Brasil…announced that approximately 300,000 pressure cookers distributed in the United States and Puerto Rico between 1977 and 1983 were being recalled. Approximately 240,000 of the pressure cookers were marketed in Puerto Rico and the rest were distributed in the Continental United States, primarily in Spanish-speaking areas of New York, Newark, New Jersey, Tampa and Miami, Florida. The pressure cookers were recalled because of a faulty gasket which allows the pots to be opened while still containing pressure. Continued use of the pressure cookers could result in physical injury to the users. Alcan is aware of two incidents involving this pressure cooker which resulted in scald type injuries.”
A seventh pressure cooker has been added to the commission’s database, although it has yet to be recalled. It is the Power Pressure Cooker XL by Tristar Products. Why it still is being sold is concerning because more than one dozen complaints about serious injuries have been reported. Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley have taken on cases seeking justice for clients and safety for the general public.
“Even in light of all of the customer complaints being made, Tristar still has not recalled its pressure cooker,” attorney Andrea Lewis writes in a blog titled “Dangerous Pressure Cookers Causing Severe Injuries.” “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.”