Lawsuit Claims Discontinued—But Not Recalled—Cans of Pam Cooking Spray Exploded and Burned People

Eight people have sued the maker of Pam cooking spray, Tuesday, after they were severely injured from burns when their cans exploded. According to the plaintiff’s attorney J. Craig Smith, these incidents involved the larger cans of Pam (and similar) cooking sprays made and distributed by Conagra Brands.  

The suit alleges that these sprays have a faulty, U-shaped vent system in the bottom of the cans that, unfortunately, makes them vulnerable to explosion.  Actually, one victim said the fire was so big and hot that it burned her contact lens so bad it fused with right eye, resulting in near-blindness.

The law firm representing the six plaintiffs—Koskoff Koskoff and Bieder—issued, on Tuesday, a press release indicating that the intention of the lawsuit is “to highlight the dangers of certain household cooking spray cans and Conagra’s refusal to recall them.”

Furthermore, the law firm recounts that their independent testing, over a period of several years, found there is, in fact, a defect in the bottom of these cans.  The claim, then, is that while Conagra did, indeed, discontinue the new can design production, they did not issue a recall for the products that had already shipped. 

These vented cans are at least 10 oz in size, which means they are much bigger than the 6-oz variety that are more commonly sold at your neighborhood grocery store.  These larger cans are only available at bigger warehouse stores like Costco as well as big box multi-retailers like Walmart and, of course, at the online powerhouse Amazon.  

Chicago-based Conagra confides the vent system in question was only used on a “limited” number of cans, but then were eliminated during a product redesign, earlier this year. The redesign effort actually came before these incidents and were not related to the lawsuits. Rather, they were part of a different strategy to more effectively strategize the company’s cans, overall.

In addition, Conagra says Pam (and other similar cooking sprays) have distinct warning labels that inform customers of the product’s flammability. Furthermore, the warnings—which are found on the front and the back of the cans—advise the cans should not be left on top of or near a hot stove or other heat source.  Also, the labels advise that these cans should be not be sprayed near an open flame and should not be stored anywhere the temperature reaches higher than 120 degrees F. 

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