The canisters were sold by Costco and Amazon. Eight consumers are suing for sustained injuries.

By Lauren Wicks
Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Cooking spray is a great invention for saving money on expensive cooking oil, preventing food waste, and adding very few calories to food, but a new lawsuit shows it’s extremely important to store it properly. Eight consumers are currently suing Conagra—the producer of PAM and other cooking spray brands—after the cans allegedly exploded and left them burned and disfigured.

These cooking spray canisters are thought to be attributed to heat sensitivity—which is an issue, considering they are typically used near stoves, ovens, and other heat sources. The lawsuits, filed in Chicago on Tuesday, allege Conagra designed and produced defective cooking spray cans and failed to warn consumers of potential danger.

The cans in question were first produced in 2011 and designed to be cost-effective for sale at wholesale retail chains. These cooking spray cans have been sold in Costco, Walmart, and  BJ’s Warehouse locations nationwide, as well as on Amazon.

The lawsuits allege these 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.”

Koskoff Koskoff and Beider, the Connecticut-based firm representing all eight victims, specializes in defective and harmful products litigation. The firm claims it has conducted extensive testing on these cans which prove “the defectiveness and faulty design of the bottom of Conagra cooking spray cans and the extreme safety hazards for consumers using the product.”

Conagra defended their product in a statement to Cooking Light, which read:

“Please know the safety of our products and our consumers is always our top priority.

When PAM is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100-percent safe and effective product. PAM Cooking Sprays is used safely and properly by millions of people several times a day, every single day. The product has been used for more than 50 years for the baking, grilling and cooking needs of consumers everywhere.

All PAM Cooking Sprays include large, clear instructions, warnings and cautions on both the front and back of the packaging alerting consumers that the product should be used responsibly as it is flammable, and that it should not be left on a stove or near a heat source, should not be sprayed near an open flame, and should not be stored above 120°F.

"The vented can design in question, was used in market on a limited number of cans over the last several years. We redesign packaging in the ordinary course of business, and just as we introduced the vented can years ago, we removed it from production, earlier this year, as we sought to standardize our cans across the entire aerosol cooking spray product line. So, that design is no longer in production.

We fully stand by this product. To reiterate, when PAM is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100-percent safe and effective product.”

Koskoff Koskoff and Beider noted Conagra was “evidently aware” of the potential harm these cans could cause, as the company relayed to business partners that it has discontinued further production of this canister design as of January 1. However, the company has yet to issue a nationwide recall of already-shipped products with that design, which have shelf lives of several years. But according to Conagra's statement, the removal of the cans from production was not due to a safety hazard.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently looking into the victims’ claims, and we will keep you updated with the latest on this lawsuit as it unfolds. Until then, if you have canisters with the vented bottom, you may want to replace them.

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