When I was doing consumer research, I ran across an article on exploding Pyrex cookware.
Since I recently received a Pyrex casserole dish for a gift, I was concerned. I did more research.
I e-mailed questions about whether consumers should throw away their Pyrex cookware due to these exploding incidents to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Scott Wolfson, a spokesperson for the CPSC, replied:
CPSC does not recommend that consumers dispose of their Pyrex dishes, but we do believe that it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and to report to CPSC if you ever experience an incident with the product.
After Wolfson’s prompt reply, I e-mailed more questions:
ConsumerAffairs.com is a reliable Website. It reports more than 350 complaints from Pyrex exploding in the article below, which was written three years ago.
I checked again and found an updated article of dozens of more cases of exploding Pyrex: www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/pyrex.html.
Isn’t World Kitchens [makers of Pyrex] concerned about these explosions? Some could be attributed to consumer misuse, such as one consumer broiled in a glass dish and others set theirs on the stovetop where a glass surface unit could have still been too hot. However, some people used ingredients at room temperature and from the refrigerator, and their measuring cup exploded. Another consumer's Pyrex exploded in the dishwasher the day after the dishes had been washed…
Is the commission staff looking into the complaints filed with ConsumerAffairs.com? Should all those consumers file complaints with you?
I looked on the Pyrex Web site where this problem is addressed. World Kitchens blames the problem entirely on consumer misuse. It says since injuries aren’t coming up in your database, they aren’t occurring.
I’ve used Pyrex products for years with no problems. However, my daughter bought me a glass casserole dish recently. I’m wondering if I should use it. I’d hate to have an exploding Pyrex container accident such as the ones described on ConsumerAffairs.com. It sounds really traumatic.
For additional information specific to Pyrex, please submit a FOIA request via e-mail to Alberta Mills at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve submitted the Freedom of Information Act request, but I don’t understand why Wolfson wouldn’t answer my questions. I received this reply in the acknowledgment of my FOIA request:
Due to certain procedural steps we are required to take under our statute, there may be delays in providing the records. Please be assured that every effort is being made to process each request as equitably as possible, and that the records or information that you have requested will be made available to you at the earliest possible date.
So now I’m waiting for more information. I still don’t know what to do about my Pyrex casserole. I’m treating it gingerly until I receive more information.
What about you? Have you had problems with Pyrex cookware? If so, let me know in the Comment section below.
Update: The information I requested from the CPSC on exploding Pyrex baking dishes was interesting.
The agency send me 75 incident reports from January 1999 through March 9, 2010. World Kitchen, through its law firm – Manatt, Phelps, Phillips – responded to each report.
Of the 75 reports, one was for another company, two were duplicates, and 13 were caused by a mistake in use that the consumer made, such as using the glass pan on a burner or putting it in an oven that was preheating. That leaves 59 incident reports.
Twelve consumers reported having injuries associated with their Pyrex cookware exploding. Most were minor cuts with two burns reported. One woman had a cut on her chin that required six stitches.
Two of the reported injuries were severe: one consumer reported a severed tendon in each foot and another consumer reported a severed tendon in an index finger.
For most of the incident reports, Kerrie L. Campbell of Manatt, Phelps, Phillips said World Kitchen wasn’t contacted, it wasn’t confirmed that the exploding cookware was a Pyrex product because it couldn't examine the pieces of glass involved, and the reports and any injury described were unsubstantiated.
In the few cases where World Kitchen examined the glass that shattered, the company blamed the consumer by saying the breakage was caused by thermal downshock, which means the glass changed temperature rapidly. In two cases, the law firm said the breakage was caused by mechanical impact.
Many of the consumers said the explosion of the Pyrex glassware was traumatic. Several said the warnings about not using on a stove burner or in a preheating oven weren’t prominent enough. They’re on the back of a label and imprinted on the bottom of the glass cookware.
The problem with the exploding Pyrex cookware may be that a change in manufacturing has occurred. The cookware was originally made of borosilicate glass, which is very resistant to thermal shock. Currently, Pyrex is made of soda-lime glass, probably to cut costs, because soda-lime glass is very inexpensive. In addition, Pyrex is no longer made by the original manufacturer.
Glass cookware in Europe is still made of borosilicate glass. In a test by Consumer Reports, cookware made from soda-lime glass exploded while the cookware made from borosilicate glass didn’t.
A class-action lawsuit filed in Chicago about exploding cookware has allegations that Correlle Brands, which acquired World Kitchen, has denied in court.
On its website, Corelle Brands doesn’t address the problems with exploding Pyrex cookware. It lists safety and use instructions such don’t use on the stovetop, avoid sudden temperature changes, and don't drop or hit against a hard object.
The position of the CPSC is the number of incidents of exploding cookware is small compared to the millions of the items in consumers’ homes and the risk of using it is low.