Eight people are suing Conagra, the maker of Pam and other cooking sprays, because they say the cans exploded and severely burned and disfigured them.
The half a dozen lawsuits, filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago on Tuesday morning, allege that Conagra designed and produced cooking-spray cans that were defective, especially when close to kitchen heat sources such as stoves and grills where this food product tends to be used.
Conagra failed to warn consumers of the danger, the court filings charge.
“When Pam is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100% safe and effective product,” the Chicago-based company said in a statement. “Pam Cooking Spray is used safely and properly by millions of people every day and several times a day.”
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Conagra added that the can design in question is no longer in production.
The plaintiffs are:
- Maria Mariano, whose canister of Wellsley Farms Cooking Spray on a counter near the stove in her Staten Island, New York, home, exploded as she was boiling water on April 5.
- Raveen Sugantharaj, who was burned by an exploding can of Pam Cooking Spray in his Indianapolis home on March 6.
- Paytene Pivonka and Jacob Dalton, whose Pam Cooking Spray on a wall shelf above the stove where they were cooking in their Provo, Utah, home exploded and burned them on Nov. 6.
- Andrea Bearden and Brandon Banks, who were burned in their Mount Carmel, Illinois, home, on May 19 when the can of Pam Cooking Spray on a counter beside their stove exploded.
- Reveriano Duran, a cook at of the Berryhill Baja Grill in Houston, who on July 16, 2017, moved a canister of Sysco Cooking Spray from the left side of a shelf near the grill top to the right side and then was burned when it exploded.
- Y’Tesia Taylor, who was burned and blinded in one eye on July 15, 2017, when a canister of Pam Cooking Spray, which she’d just used to spray a baking dish with and then placed on a rolling wooden utility cart next to the stove where she was cooking, exploded as she finished putting the dish in the oven in her Greenville, Texas, home.
Conagra said that all Pam Cooking Sprays include clear instructions on both the front and back of the packaging that it should be used responsibly due to its flammability and that it shouldn’t be left on a stove or near a heat source, sprayed near an open flame or stored above 120°F.”
The new cans “were designed and manufactured so that when the can buckled and the u-shaped vents on the bottom of the canister opened, the internal contents of the canister would escape through the vents and the pressure inside the can would be reduced,” the lawsuits allege.
J. Craig Smith of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, which represents the victims in these cases, explained that in 2011, after decades, Conagra switched to a new kind of aerosol can – primarily for cans 10 ounces or larger, primarily sold at wholesale retail chains – as a cost-saving measure. The design makes the can more likely to explode at lower temperatures than intended.
“Perhaps more alarming is the fact that, to this day, Conagra apparently refuses to institute a nationwide recall to ensure that the defective cans sitting on store shelves right now are removed before someone else suffers permanent injury from an explosion,” he said in a statement. “Each day that these cans remain on store shelves, Conagra’s negligence puts consumers in danger.”
Conagra’s other brands include Healthy Choice, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Marie Callender’s, Reddi-wip and Slim Jim.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer