What is a pressure cooker?

Pressure cookers are popular kitchen appliances that use hot steam to cook food faster and with less energy than a normal pot with a lid. Pressure cookers have 3 basic parts: a pot, a lid, and a release valve. They can be electric or stove-top, but both work in the same way.

How do pressure cookers work?

Pressure cookers use heat from a stove or an electric heating element to boil liquids in the pot. The boiling liquids release steam that is trapped inside the pot. As the steam accumulates, pressure increases — and so does the temperature. Pressure cookers can hit temperatures of at least 250º, which is more than 40º hotter than the boiling-point of water. This cooks food faster, but it also poses risks.

What are the dangers of using a pressure cooker?

Just like shaking up a can of soda, liquids under pressure can make a huge mess when the pressure is suddenly released by opening the lid. The difference is that the food in a pressure cooker is extremely hot, sticky, and explodes out of the pot with a burst of scalding-hot steam.

Anyone who is standing nearby when a pressure cooker explodes can suffer devastating burn injuries. Hot steam can immediately burn large sections of skin, but the bigger danger is the food and liquid sticking to a person’s skin or clothing and causing devastating 3rd-degree burns.

There is also a risk of metal shrapnel exploding from a broken pressure cooker pot, lid, or valve. These flying pieces of metal can cause blindness, lacerations, scarring, disfigurement, or even death.

Why do pressure cookers explode?

Pressure cooker explosions occur because there was too much pressure in the pot when the lid was opened. This can occur in a few ways:

  • The vent became clogged and the pressure forced the lid to explode open
  • A person opened the lid without using the valve to release pressure
  • The locking lid was defective and a person was able to open the lid before the pressure was safely released
  • Manufacturing or design defects

Have pressure cooker lawsuits been filed?

Yes. In recent years, many lawsuits and class actions have been filed by people who were injured by pressure cookers that exploded, including the Instant Pot, Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL, Maxi-Matic Electric Pressure Cooker, Wolfgang Puck Pressure Cooker, Vasconia Pressure Cooker, and others.

Most of these lawsuits involve the Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL. The plaintiffs claim that the “locking” lid does not actually lock on when there is still a dangerous amount of pressure inside the pot.

Is there a pressure cooker class action?

Many class actions have been filed by people who were injured by exploding pressure cookers. These class actions are generally seeking financial compensation for everyone who purchased the defective pressure cooker, as well as people who were injured.

In one class action, a woman from Texas named Tabitha A. says she was burned by a Wolfgang Puck Automatic Rapid Pressure Cooker that exploded hot gumbo all over her body at the end of its cooking cycle. Like other lawsuits, she accuses the manufacturer of selling a defective and unsafe product.

Have any settlements been paid out to victims of pressure cookers?

In December 2018, a $27 million settlement was awarded to a 2 year-old girl who was severely burned and disfigured by an exploding pressure cooker. The lawsuit was filed by the family of Samantha Gonzalez, a toddler who was being bathed in the sink when a Vasconia® Pressure Cooker on the kitchen counter suddenly exploded. She suffered burns over 60% of her body and doctors were forced to amputate all of her fingers, one of her legs, and a hip.

Is there a class action settlement?

There was a class action settlement for the Tristar Power Pressure Cooker XL, but it was delayed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the controversial settlement, 3 million people would lose their ability to file lawsuits, but attorneys would get $2.5 million in cash.

Arizona Attorney General Brnovich asked the court to reject the settlement because it would divert nearly all of the cash to lawyers while leaving consumers with $5 coupons for other Tristar products.

What pressure cookers have been recalled?

  • ALDI Pressure Cookers
  • Alcan Pressure Cookers
  • Breville Fast Slow Cookers
  • Crofton Chef’s Collection Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers
  • Welbilt Electronic Pressure Cookers
  • Manttra Pressure Cookers
  • HSN Bella Cucina Zip Cookers
  • HSN Ultrex Pressure Cookers
  • Instant Pot
  • Power Pressure Cooker XL
  • Prestige Smartplus Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
  • Maxi-Matic Pressure Cookers
  • Nutrex Pressure Cookers
  • Tower Pressure Cookers
  • Tristar Products — Power Pressure Cooker XL
  • Fagor America Cookers
  • Tabletops Unlimited Cookers
  • Maxi-Matic Cookers
  • Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Cookers
  • Double Insight Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
  • 3-Squares Tim3 Machin3 Cookers