by Mr. Ducke
Here’s a scary statistic from Consumer Reports: In the U.S. annually, an estimated 11,882 people visit emergency rooms because of injuries from glass bakeware. Some of these accidents are, no doubt, due to slippery fingers. But, Consumer Reports analyzed 163 glassware accidents and found that 55% involved glass that shattered while still in the oven. Many victims also reported that, while they were carrying hot bakeware or when they set it on a counter, it “exploded” and sent shards flying, often causing injuries.
In response to the many complaints related to “exploding” glassware in news reports and online, Consumer Reports embarked upon a year-long study involving product testing. The results, published in the January 2011 issue, led to a recommendation that the Consumer Product Safety Commission investigate further.
Because Pyrex and Anchor Hocking “own 75% of the glass bakeware market,” these are the products that were tested, along with European brands. American-made Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are made from soda lime glass, while the European products are made from borosilicate, a more expensive glass. The magazine says, “European glass pans withstood our extreme heat tests better than U.S. pans.” However, of the breakage incidents the magazine studied, 78% of users said the temperature they used was 375° or less. This lengthy article provides details about test results as well as anecdotal reports from consumers who have had injuries from glassware products.
If you are using glass bakeware, here are some of the precautions that Consumer Reports and the manufacturersrecommend to avoid breakage and flying shards:
• Always set hot glassware on a dry cloth or potholder, never directly on a counter, metal trivet, damp towel, cold wet surface, or burner.
• Always let the oven fully preheat before placing glassware in it.
• Before cooking meat or vegetables, cover the bottom of the dish with liquid.
• Once the glassware is hot, don’t add water to it.
• Carefully inspect your glassware for chips, cracks, or scratches. Damaged dishes “may not offer the same safety margin as new dishes,” an expert told Consumer Reports.
• If you’re using the dish in the microwave, 1) don’t use the browning element and 2) don’t overheat oil or butter.
Shelf Life Advice has covered the risks related to “exploding” Pyrex in a previous article. (See “Pyrex Glassware: is it safe to use?” http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/pyrex-glassware-safe-use, so we were happy to see this hazard being addressed by a widely read and respected publication.
Here are our recommendations:
1. If you plan to purchase glass bakeware, European-made products might be a safer bet.
2. If you buy American-made glass cookware, read the instructions and warnings carefully and save them to refer to whenever you use the product.
3. If you already own glass bakeware but no longer have the packaging or booklet about proper use, go online and check the manufacturer’s usage tips. (There may be even more than what’s listed above.)
4. Consider purchasing and using metal bakeware for all baking except in the microwave.
If you are unfortunate enough to have (or have had) an experience with glassware unexpectedly breaking despite no obvious misuse on your part, report the incident to the CPSC at 800-638-27672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consumer Reports, January, 2011, pp. 44-48.
ETHEL TIERSKY, the editor and frequent author for http://shelflifeadvice.com,has been a free-lance writer since 1963 and a food safety fanatic for even longer. She has published dozens of magazine articles and co-authored 14 grammar texts and readers for adults studying the English language. Developing http://shelflifeadvice.com has kept her busy since retiring from her teaching position as associate professor of English at Harry Truman College in Chicago. Some of her other writings for the site include “Don’t Let Those Food Expiration Dates Scare You,” product write-ups on mayonnaise and water, and “Pyrex Glassware: Is It Safe to Use?”