By Daniel Justus Solinsky of Fellows Hymowitz Rice, PC
If I hear about one more loved one getting an “Instapot” or electric pressure cooker, I’m going to explode – bad pun. If you are in the market for one of these items, you need to read this article.
Pressure cookers have the ability to cook food faster than conventional ovens or boilers because they use concentrated pressure to superheat liquids and food well beyond water’s normal boiling point. The secret ingredient: Pressure.
With immense pressure, however, comes great danger, and it is small wonder that pressure cookers have been used as bombs by terrorists in the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, the lower Manhattan bombing in 2016 and countless other instances.
Lately, Court dockets have become full of products liability cases where customers have claimed that electric pressure cookers or “Instapots” have either exploded under pressure or were able to be opened under pressure, causing severe burn injuries to themselves or their loved ones.
Years ago, pressure cookers were used as stovetop appliances to assist in cooking soups and stews. The dangers of the pressure cookers were well known and regulated by safety organizations such as Underwriter Laboratories (UL).
In order to get the UL Certification Mark 136, a pressure cooker had to withstand rigorous design testing including tests designed to ensure that the lid is secure enough that it would not open even with 100 pounds of force. Additionally, very specific warnings are required to be placed in the directions warning the user against even attempting to open the pressure cooker until it has completely cooled.
As the popularity of these electric pressure cookers and “Instapots” rose, so did innovation. The manufacturers of these items seemed to take notice of the fact that the scope of UL 136 covered only pressure cookers that “are intended for use over gas- or electric-top burners of residential-type cooking ranges.” The newer electric pressure cooker design created its own internal heat and did not need stovetop burner, therefore, their product did not have to pass the rigors of UL 136 in order to get the UL stamp of approval. Instead, they apply for UL 1026 certification, which does not require the same rigorous testing as the old stovetop pressure cookers required. They are therefore able to make their products cheaply and less safe.
If you are in the market for an electric pressure cooker or “Instapot,” we strongly urge you to make sure that the product has the UL 136 stamp on it, or to check with cpsc.gov to see if the particular product you are using has been recalled or taken off the market.
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