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USA Today, reports of exploding cooking spray aerosols

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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, reports USA Today.

The half a dozen lawsuits, filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, 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."

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 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.”