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Glass Tables and Pyrex Shattering

Three Years Later: Pyrex Dishes Still Go Boom

Government safety agency mum, company blames victims for cuts, burns

World Kitchen/Pyrex have submitted a response to this story. You may read their full and unedited response here.

It has been nearly three years since ConsumerAffairs.com first reported that consumers were being cut and burned by exploding Pyrex bakeware. The company was quick to deny the problem and government safety regulators seemed untroubled by the reports.

Three years later, not much has changed. Many consumers still rely on Pyrex bakeware for everyday cooking chores,...

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    Glass Tables a Serious Safety Hazard

    If Glass Is Not Tempered, Breakage Can Be Life-Threatening


    In an instant, Kori Saunders thought her soccer playing days at the University of Nebraska were over. After sitting on the corner of a friend's glass coffee table while playing Nintendo, she heard a loud popping noise and all of a sudden, the glass shattered.

    As Kori fell, a large glass shard punctured her kidney and chipped her vertebrae. She was told she would never walk again.

    Jason Black, a professional opera singer, was told he'd never speak again after a heavy glass table he was carrying fell and shattered, severing both jugular veins, and almost decapitating him as his wife watched in horror.

    "With this accident and all the blood, and just the shrieking sound of the glass it was so loud, I just, I really didn't think he was going to make it," Jason's wife told the syndicated TV news show Inside Edition.

    Glass tables are stylish and popular, but are they safe? What many people might not know is that some glass tables are safer than others and you can't tell by looking at them.

    Inside Edition conducted a demonstration by breaking two types of glass: regular and "safety glass," known as tempered glass in the industry. When regular glass is broken it breaks into very large shards of sharp glass that could very easily cut somebody.

    However, according to Consumer Reports product safety director Don Mays who conducted the demonstration with Inside Edition, when tempered glass breaks, it breaks into small pieces that aren't likely to cause serious injury.

    Mays says accidents could be dramatically reduced if all glass furniture sold in the U.S. was required to be made of safety glass.

    "The European Union requires that glass table tops be made of safety glass. In the United States, no such law exists," Mays said.

    Both Kori Saunders and Jason Black have recovered fully. But they both say Americans have a right to know just how safe their furniture is.

    ConsumerAffairs.com hears regularly from consumers whose glass patio tables have imploded and consumers complain of getting small pieces of glass in their feet and hands. But, though annoying, this kind of breakage is typical of tempered glass and is not likely to cause life-threatening injury.

    Hard to Tell

    But as Inside Edition found, it's not always easy to find out if you are actually buying tempered glass.

    Inside Edition's Matt Meagher took hidden cameras to two different Bombay furniture stores. Salespeople at both assured Meagher that a particular tabletop was made from tempered glass.

    To find out if this was true, Meagher purchased the tabletop and broke the top to see how the glass broke. The result was large, dangerous shards of regular glass.

    A spokeswoman for Bombay told Inside Edition the chain would try to prevent similar incidents.

    "You have told us that our sales associates represented this glass as tempered and if so the sales associates were incorrect about this particular piece of glass we are taking immediate action to provide additional information to our sales associate throughout the country in an attempt to avoid similar incidents in the future," a Baombay spokesperson said.

    What Can You Do?

    As Inside Edition reported, glass tops are attracgtive but can be very dangerous. The safest course of action -- especially for families with small children -- is to avoid glass-topped furniture entirely.

    If you have a table that requires a clear top, any mirror or glass shop can provide you with glass that is guaranteed tempered. Better yet, while your children are small, have the glass shop cut clear plexiglass to replace the glass tops. Sure, it may scratch but it won't shatter and cause serious injury.

    Glass Tables a Serious Safety Hazard...

    Teavana recalls glass pitchers

    The pitchers can break or leak

    Teavana of Seattle, Wash., is recalling about 56,800 Tristan glass pitchers in the U.S. and Canada.

     

    The pitchers can break or leak, posing laceration and/or burn hazards to consumers if filled with hot tea.

     

    The company has received 50 reports of the glass pitchers breaking or leaking, including 3 reports of lacerations and 2 minor burns.

     

    The company has received 50 reports of the glass pitchers breaking or leaking, including three reports of lacerations and two minor burns.

     

    This recall involves 64-oz. Tristan glass pitchers for hot or cold tea with a glass handle, stainless steel infuser and a lid and base that are made of flexible black silicone. The pitchers measure about 12 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter. The Teavana logo is printed on the bottom. Style #30593000064 and SKU#11034874 are printed on the pitchers’ box.

     

    The pitchers, manufactured in China, were sold exclusively at Teavana stores nationwide and online at www.Teavana.com from May 2012, through June 2015, for about $50.

     

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled glass pitchers and return them to a Teavana store location (except for two stores: Columbia Mall, Columbia, Maryland, and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Texas) or contact Teavana for a free replacement 66-oz. infusion tea pitcher plus a $25 Teavana gift card or for a Teavana gift card for the purchase price plus tax.

     

    Consumers may contact Teavana toll free at (888) 665-0463 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

     

     

    Teavana of Seattle, Wash., is recalling about 56,800 Tristan glass pitchers in the U.S. and Canada. The pitchers can break or leak, posing laceration and/...

    Holiday Chefs Beware: Hot Glassware Can Shatter Unexpectedly

    Consumer Product Safety Commission asked to investigate glass bakeware

    While hundreds of millions of glass baking dishes are used safely each year, hot glassware can shatter unexpectedly -- sometimes causing serious injuries, according to a year-long investigation by Consumer Reports (CR). 

    The report, which comes more than four years after ConsumerAffairs.com revealed the problem and jousted with bakeware company lawyers,  details several stories of glass bakeware breaking and shattering, including the case of a grandmother who said she opened her oven to baste a ham on Thanksgiving Day, only to have the glass dish shatter, sending pieces of glass and hot juices flying.  

    Investigation requested

    After reviewing scores of consumer reports filed with federal regulators about bakeware unexpectedly shattering, Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, has asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to conduct a thorough study of glass bakeware on the market. 

    CU has also called on manufacturers to imprint warnings that are clearer and more prominent on their bakeware.  "Part of the problem is that the fine print warnings are so tiny and they're part of the packaging that consumers often throw out," said Andrea Rock, senior editor, Consumer Reports.    

    The report, available in the magazine's January issue, says that in a typical year, the two main manufacturers of glass bakeware -- World Kitchen, the maker of Pyrex in the U.S., and its competitor, Anchor Hocking -- collectively make on average more than 70 million units of what is undoubtedly a staple of most kitchens and a popular cooking tool when preparing holiday meals.  

    Caution for cooks

    The report contains ten precautions that may surprise cooks who have used glass bakeware.  To minimize the chances of the glassware shattering, consumers should read and save the safety instructions from their glass bakeware and follow these safety rules: 

    1. Always place hot glassware on a dry, cloth potholder or towel.
    2. Never use glassware for stovetop cooking or under a broiler.
    3. Always allow the oven to preheat fully before placing the glassware in the oven.
    4. Always cover the bottom of the dish with liquid before cooking meat or vegetables.
    5. Don't add liquid to hot glassware.
    6. If you're using the dish in a microwave, do not use browning elements, and avoid overheating oil and butter.
    7. Do not take dishes directly from the freezer to the oven or vice versa.
    8. Never place hot glassware directly on a countertop (or smoothtop), metal surface, on a damp towel, in the sink, or on a cold or wet surface.
    9. Inspect your dishes for chips, cracks, and scratches. Discard dishes with such damage.
    10. To avoid risks associated with glass dishes, consider using metal bakeware for conventional and convection ovens.

    CR's investigation

    To find out about glass bakeware, CR conducted an investigation that included testing in its own labs and outside labs, and gathering information from manufacturers, government agencies, experts, and consumers.   When Pyrex was first marketed in 1915, it was made of a heat-resistant glass called borosilicate that previously was used to prevent glass railroad lanterns from shattering. 

    While U.S. manufacturers of both Pyrex and Anchor Hocking have switched from borosilicate to soda lime glass for their glass bakeware, the magazine notes, samples of European-made glass bakeware obtained continue to consist of borosilicate. 

    The manufacturers say their soda lime glass has advantages and is less likely to break when dropped or bumped.  While the results from Consumer Reports' limited impact tests were highly variable, some samples of soda lime glass showed the highest impact resistance.

    The methods

    Consumer Reports tested both types of glass in its lab to see how they compared in extreme conditions likely to cause breakage. To test the dishes, CR filled each pan with dry sand (which gets much hotter than food) and then placed the dishes in ovens set at varying temperatures.  The testers then compared what happened when each hot dish was removed from the oven and placed on a wet granite countertop, a situation likely to induce thermal shock and contrary to each manufacturer's instructions for use. 

    The magazine notes that the bar was set high in the extreme tests because dishes that are scratched or damaged may not offer the same safety margin as new dishes, and users may ignore or be unaware of the usage instructions. 

    Ten out of ten times the soda lime glass broke after baking at 450 degrees. But in the same conditions, the European borosilicate glassware did not break, though most did after baking at 500 degrees.

    Highlights

    Some key highlights from the investigation include the following:

    • Consumers in scores of cases reported glass bakeware unexpectedly shattering, according to federal documents, court papers, and interviews.   When Consumer Reports examined 163 incidents (152 of which were from CPSC files) in detail, the analysis revealed 42 reports of injuries, ranging from minor burns or cuts to those requiring surgery. More than half of the incidents reportedly occurred while the bakeware was in the oven while almost a quarter occurred with the bakeware cooling on a counter or stovetop.
    • When glass bakeware does shatter, consumers say, it can break into sharp shards that go flying, raising the risks of injuries. This contrasts with claims from one of the manufacturers that its glass bakeware breaks into "relatively small pieces generally lacking sharp edges.”

    Michelle of New York, NY, says she was  cooking BBQ turkey legs in a 375 degree oven using Anchor Hocking glass lasagna pans. "When I went to take it out," she writes ConsumerAffairs.com. "It exploded and shards of glass when flying everywhere. They even flew into my face and luckily I didn't get anything in my eye how ever in the process of cleaning up the mess, I cut my foot. Thank God my kids were not in the room when it happened."

    "I placed a pork loin into my Pyrex dish and put it in a 425 degree oven," writes Megan of Newport News, VA. "Eight minutes into cooking I hear an explosion. I open my oven to find tiny pieces of glass EVERYWHERE and my pork loin lying on the oven rack. So glad nobody was around and the oven door was closed tightly when it happened. Beware!"

    Recommendations

    Consumers Union says manufacturers should imprint clearer and more prominent warnings on their bakeware, not just on the packaging that gets tossed upon first use. 

    While hundreds of millions of dishes are used safely each year, CU believes the situation is serious enough that it has asked the CPSC to conduct a thorough study of glass bakeware on the market, with particular attention to the difference between bakeware made of soda lime glass and borosilicate.

    Consumer Reports: Hot Glassware Can Shatter Unexpectedly Consumer Product Safety Commission asked to investigate glass bakeware...

    Video: Aftermath Of A Baking Dish Explosion

    Glass bakeware can make quite a mess if it shatters

    Over the years, ConsumerAffairs.com has received a number of complaints from consumers about their glass bakeware exploding, either in the oven or soon after being removed.

    "My wife was baking fish with vegetables in a Pyrex baking dish when we both heard a bang like a crash of glass coming from inside the oven," Al of Chicago told ConsumerAffairs.com recently. "We opened it and saw that the glass dish had literally exploded, with about 15 large pieces and countless smaller pieces of glass of all sizes inside the oven."

    One consumer submitted this YouTube video, showing the aftermath of
    one of these kitchen catastrophes.


    ConsumerAffairs.com has also received similar complaints about glass baking dishes made by Anchor Hocking.

    "I was making dinner last night with our 9x11" glass casserole dish made by Anchor," Kami, of Ashburn, Va., told ConsumerAffairs.com. "I pulled the dish out of the oven, set it on the stovetop to cool off for a few minutes before cutting the casserole to serve for dinner. About five minutes later, we heard the knife fall to the floor and a loud "BOOM" sound. We look up to find that our casserole dish had exploded all over the stove, counters, and floor!"

    For the record, the company that makes Pyrex says its products are safe, are made the same way they always have been, and that users should carefully follow the directions for use.

    Video: Aftermath Of A Baking Dish Explosion. Glass bakeware can make quite a mess if it shatters....

    Macy's Sues Martha Over J.C. Penney Deal

    Claims it has the exclusive right to sell Martha's stuff

    Macy's is miffed at Martha. No, it doesn't have anything to do with those infamous exploding tables. No one seems to care about those, except their unlucky owners.  

    This fight is over something more basic -- marketing rights.  Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia recently signed an agreement with J.C. Penney to sell home and kitchen items under the Martha Stewart name, something Macy's thinks is its exclusive territory.

    After all, Macy's has been selling Martha's stuff since way back in 2005 or so, when a similarly snotty dust-up occurred between Sears/Kmart and Macy's.

    Is this starting to sound like Newt Gingrich's marital history?

    You may remember that Kmart had been selling a line of Martha Stewart merchandise for years and stuck with her during, oh, you know, that little unpleasantness with the courts and prison and everything.

    When she got out, Martha repaid Sears/Kmart by doing a deal with Macy's.  Now Macy's is on the receiving end, and has filed suit in a New York court charging breach of contract and claiming that the right to sell Martha Stewart home and kitchen items belongs exclusively to Macy's.

    A Stewart spokesman said the merchandise sold at Penney's would be different from that sold at Macy's.

    Macy's is miffed at Martha. No, it doesn't have anything to do with those infamous exploding tables. No one seems to care about those, except their unlucky...

    World Kitchen & Pyrex Respond

    Company claims "serious errors" in ConsumerAffairs.com's story

    World Kitchen's attorneys have submitted the following response to our August 20, 2008 story.

    Pyrex Maker Identifies Serious Flaws in ConsumerAffairs.coms Story

    Consumers should have accurate information about Pyrex glass bakeware. Instead, ConsumerAffairs.coms (Consumer Affairs) August 20, 2008 posting by Joseph S. Enoch, entitled Three Years Later: Pyrex Dishes Still Go Boom, falsely claims that Pyrex glass bakeware is unsafe for use as directed. This is not the case. In fact, consumers have safely and reliably used hundreds of millions of pieces of Pyrex glassware in American kitchens for decades.

    World Kitchen, LLC (the U.S. manufacturer of Pyrex glass bakeware) has identified serious errors in the Pyrex story and Consumer Affairs has agreed to post a response . . . from World Kitchen in a prominent place next to the original story. (September 29, 2008 Email from Consumer Affairs counsel, Cameron Stracher, to World Kitchens counsel, Kerrie L. Campbell). In order to ensure that consumers have access to truthful and accurate information, World Kitchen urges Consumer Affairs to post this response in a prominent place next to all postings that contain similar false and misleading criticisms of Pyrex.

    1. Contrary to what Consumer Affairs Says, World Kitchen Did Not Change the Formulation of Pyrex Glass Bakeware; the Formulation is the Same as that used by Corning.

    According to Consumer Affairs August 20 Pyrex posting:

    • The four glass experts ConsumerAffairs.com consulted for this story agreed that the most likely reason the dishes are exploding is that they are not made from the type of glass, known as borosilicate, that they said was originally used in Pyrex dishes.
    • All the experts we consulted said they had not heard of this problem until just recently and doubted that the Pyrex manufactured by Corning before the 1998 licensing of its name to World Kitchen would be dangerous.

    While it is true that Pyrex was originally made of borosilicate glass in 1915, Pyrex glass bakeware sold in the U.S. has been made consistently of soda lime glass that has been heat strengthened, through a thermal tempering process, at World Kitchens Charleroi, Pennsylvania plant for about 60 years, first by its predecessor Corning and then by World Kitchen, using rigorous quality control and manufacturing standards. Consumer Affairs knew this before publishing the posting.

    Contrary to the unsupported and unsubstantiated speculation of the experts who contributed to the article, World Kitchens manufacturing process, including the thermal tempering process, and specifications for Pyrex glass bakeware are the same as those utilized by Corning for decades prior to World Kitchens purchase of the business in 1998. The claim that in 1998 World Kitchen changed the composition of Pyrex is false.

    2. Contrary to what Consumer Affairs Says, Pyrex Glass Bakeware is Properly Tempered.

    According to Consumer Affairs August 20 Pyrex posting:

    • The four glass experts ConsumerAffairs.com consulted for this story agreed that the most likely reason the dishes are exploding is that they are not made from the type of glass, known as borosilicate, that they said was originally used in Pyrex dishes.
    • Glass experts consulted for this story say the glass used in todays Pyrex products may not be tempered properly, making it more likely to explode than products sold under the Pyrex label in the UK and some other European countries.
    • Tempered soda lime is not designed to withstand extreme temperature changes the way borosilicate is. Statement attributed to Dr. Delbert Day.
    • Borosilicate has a lower thermal expansion coefficient than soda lime. It is less likely to break during thermal shock. Statement attributed to Dr. Day.

    These unsupported and unsubstantiated statements included in Consumer Affairs posting communicate the false and damaging message that Pyrexs soda lime glass that has been heat strengthened, through a thermal tempering process, is an inferior composition to that of borosilicate glass sold under the Pyrex brand in some European countries. That is simply not true. In fact, as Consumer Affairs and Mr. Enoch are well aware, as compared to borosilicate glass bakeware, heat strengthened, or tempered, soda lime glass such as that used to make Pyrex glass bakeware is significantly more resistant to impact breakage and comparably resistant to breakage caused by severe temperature differential (thermal downshock).

    Pyrex glass bakeware sold in the U.S. is heat strengthened, through a thermal tempering process, to achieve an appropriate balance between increased mechanical strength (i.e., to withstand impact and thermal downshock) and energy expended upon breakage (i.e., to control the number of pieces and dynamism should breakage occur). Pyrexs exemplary safety record confirms that this balance has been appropriately struck. Unsubstantiated consumer reports of glass bakeware breakage from any cause, including incidents that involve misuse or another manufacturers brand, represent only a tiny fraction of a percent of the Pyrex glass bakeware in an estimated 80% of U.S. homes. Further, reports of glass bakeware breakage filed with the CPSC have markedly declined in recent years. Since 1998, World Kitchen has manufactured more than 390 million units of Pyrex glass products.

    3. Consumer Affairs Ignores the Scientific Fact that Pyrex Glass Bakeware is Tempered Differently than Flat Glass.

    According to Consumer Affairs August 20 Pyrex posting:

    • Dr. Richard Bradt, professor of engineering at the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the University of Alabama, said Pyrex bakeware products he examined were not tempered at all. When they broke, they broke like untempered, or un-heat-strengthened glass, Bradt said.
    • There were no fringes, indicating no tempering It's cutting out 50 percent of their manufacturing (cost). I don't want to say they don't temper any of it. (But) the ones I've seen three different sizes were not tempered. Statement attributed to Dr. Steve Frieman.
    • [Hank Chamberlain] said that the dishes were tempered, but not evenly. There's quite a bit of inconsistency within the pieces, he said.
    • It's absolutely certain that they have less core tension, and therefore less residual surface compression, than fully tempered glass. Statement attributed to Mr. Chamberlain.

    The Pyrex posting misleads and alarms consumers by utilizing statements and quotes from experts improperly contrasting Pyrex glass bakeware to so-called fully-tempered glass (i.e., glass having a surface compression > 10,000 psi). These experts (e.g., Drs. Bradt and Frieman, and Mr. Chamberlain) appear to misunderstand (or intentionally fail to acknowledge) the critical difference between fully tempered flat glass applications, such as glass doors, and heat strengthened three-dimensional consumer kitchen products, such as glass bakeware. This misunderstanding (or omission) of facts regarding various types of glass and the degrees of heat strengthening appropriate for each appears to have resulted in these experts incorrectly expecting to witness the breaking into small cubes, or dicing, that would result when fully tempered flat glass breaks, as opposed to a situation where a three dimensional consumer glass bakeware product breaks. Because it is not fully tempered, heat strengthened soda lime glass bakeware does not dice.

    Fully tempered glass is a unique kind of glass that is found in automobile side windows, glass doors and other flat glass applications. Fully tempered glass is not used in Pyrex glass bakeware or any other glass bakeware because when breakage of fully tempered glass occurs, it results in a far greater number of small, sharp pieces and splinters that would be thrown further and with more force than would result from glass that is appropriately heat strengthened for kitchen use. All glass can break. As a result, in designing glass bakeware, it is imperative to strike an appropriate balance between increased mechanical strength and the energy expended upon breakage.

    Consistent with their confusion between flat glass applications and consumer glass bakeware applications, Consumer Affairs experts wrongly expect to find uniform heat strengthening across the ware. Given the three-dimensional nature of consumer glass bakeware, it is not possible to have the identical degree of heat strengthening at all points on a given dish.

    4. Contrary to what Consumer Affairs Says, Pyrex Glass Bakeware is Durable and Impact Breakage is an Important Safety Consideration.

    According to Consumer Affairs August 20 Pyrex posting:

    • Tempered soda lime is not necessarily more resistant to mechanical breakage. That toughness only exists in unchipped and unscratched tempered glass. In a kitchen environment, it should not be relied upon. Statement attributed to Mr. Hank Chamberlain.
    • Both Chamberlain and Day said that even if the glass is tempered when purchased off of store shelves, its likely the glass would lose its temper when used in the oven.
    • Impact resistance is not the valid issue . . . Were not having trouble with people dropping these things on the tile floor and cutting their toes. Were having trouble with people taking them out of the oven and having them blow up and put scalding food on them. Statement attributed to Mr. Chamberlain.

    The Consumer Affairs experts falsely contend that the durability of Pyrex glass bakeware does not withstand exposure to kitchen oven heat and scratches accumulated through ordinary use and wear. These concerns are unwarranted. In fact, at temperatures below 900 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e., a temperature that is far higher than that used in cooking), there is no risk that Pyrex glass bakeware loses the strength imparted by its thermal tempering process. Therefore, it is false and highly misleading to claim that violent explosions could result from a loss of heat strengthening that, in fact, only occurs at baking temperatures that are not reachable in American kitchens.

    In addition, the Consumer Affairs posting misleads consumers into believing that scratches consistent with ordinary use and wear render Pyrex glass bakeware unreliable for kitchen use. In fact, the strength imparted to Pyrex glass bakeware by World Kitchens thermal tempering process extends into the body of the glass bakeware beyond the depth of scratches that are typical of everyday glass bakeware use. Pyrex glass bakeware typically is used repeatedly and safely over many years by consumers, as is reflected in our excellent safety record.

    The Pyrex posting does readers a disservice by conveying the false impression that breakage due to thermal downshock is a more significant risk to users of glass bakeware than is breakage due to impact. Quite the contrary, the statement in Consumer Affairs posting that impact resistance is not the valid issue because [w]ere not having trouble with people dropping these things is disproved by the injury reports collected by the authoritative National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database. These data show consumers are more likely to be injured by dropping glass bakeware than by breakage apparently caused by thermal downshock (i.e., incidents that reference an unexplained shattering or explosion of glass bakeware). The NEISS database, used by product safety experts and analysts to assess the risk of injury associated with consumer products, shows that over the past five years there have been zero to three (0-3) unsubstantiated reports per year of glass bakeware (by any manufacturer) shattering or exploding. Glass bakeware is an extraordinarily safe product when used in accordance with safety and usage instructions.

    As further evidence of Pyrexs durability and excellent performance in the kitchen, World Kitchen and Pyrex have recently received unsolicited endorsements and awards. For example, Cooks Illustrated has rated the Pyrex 13 x 9 baking dish as its Favorite Pan for two consecutive years (2007, 2008) and Cooking Pleasures of the Cooking Club of America, representing 500,000 cooks, tested the Pyrex baking dish and gave it a 98% approval rating and Seal of Approval in 2008.

    5. Consumer Affairs Misrepresents the Differences between Soda Lime and Borosilicate Glass Manufacturing, and Ignores the Damaging Environmental Implications of Borosilicate Glass Manufacturing.

    According to Consumer Affairs August 20 Pyrex posting:

    • Soda lime is less expensive to produce than a borosilicate glassIt can take a higher temperature to melt the [borosilicate] composition. Statement attributed to Dr. Day.

    As noted above, soda lime glass that has been heat strengthened by a thermal tempering process is by no means an inferior composition for consumer glass bakeware relative to borosilicate glass. Yet, Mr. Enochs misleading characterization of the two compositions goes beyond even performance characteristics, by implying that because it costs more to manufacturer, borosilicate is better for kitchen use. In fact, the greater amount of energy needed to melt borosilicate, and the higher raw material cost of borosilicate, have nothing whatsoever to do with the performance and fitness of heat strengthened soda lime glass bakeware for its intended use in the kitchen. Put another way, the melting temperature necessary to manufacture Pyrex glass bakeware has no bearing on the bakewares ability to withstand temperatures consumers use in kitchens.

    Consumer Affairs and Mr. Enoch also ignore the fact that, in comparison to the manufacture of borosilicate glass, the manufacture of tempered soda lime glass offers significant environmental benefits. Tempered soda lime glass requires less energy (lower temperature) to produce, results in fewer harmful emissions during production and is more recyclable than borosilicate glass. To our knowledge, all glass bakeware made for consumer use in the U.S. is made from soda lime glass.

    6. Consumer Affairs Falsely Attributes Statements to World Kitchen that Were

    Never Made.

    According to Consumer Affairs August 20 Pyrex Posting, World Kitchens Vice President, Bryan Glancy, said:

    Tempered glass has been cooled in a way that makes it shatter into small, relatively harmless cubes, rather than large, dangerous shards and thats one of the major arguments [World Kitchen Vice President Bryan] Glancy made, writing that when Borosilicate glass breaks, it yields large shards.

    All World Kitchen communications with Consumer Affairs have been written and the record shows that neither Mr. Glancy nor anyone else at World Kitchen made those statements. Consumer Affairs is also wrong when it claims that World Kitchen blamed consumers in every known case of breakage reported to the company. World Kitchen recognizes that glass breaks and that broken glass of any size is sharp and could cause injury. That is precisely why World Kitchen provides comprehensive and effective safety and usage instructions with all the products it sells. These safety and usage instructions provide effective warnings against consumer misuse that could result in breakage and injury. World Kitchens safety and usage instructions are also available at its www.pyrexware.com website.

    7. Contrary to its Name and Appearance, Consumer Affairs is neither a Government Agency nor a Non-Profit Organization.

    In its own FAQ, Consumer Affairs acknowledges on its website that quite often viewers are confused about whether it is a government site or a non-profit. It is neither. The FAQ states that Consumer Affairs is a for-profit business that earns revenue solely by selling online advertising on its website. The FAQ further acknowledges that Consumer Affairs is hooked up with lawyers.

    Consumer Affairs also states that viewers may regard the website as terribly unfair and one-sided because its role is to post mostly complaints. According to the FAQ, Consumer Affairs is not obligated to investigate the accuracy of the comments posted on the website.

    These stated views of Consumer Affairs run counter to the accepted codes of ethics of journalism, which set fairness and accuracy as the standards for professional journalists. Examples of such ethical guidelines can be found at www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp and at http://www.asne.org/index.cfm?id=387.

    World Kitchen's attorneys have submitted the following response to our August 20, 2008 story...

    Consumers Left to Sweep Up as Martha Stewart Tables Shatter

    Courts, feds, the press, Kmart and Martha turn their backs on consumers

    As winter turns to spring, consumers across the country are once again waking up to the sounds of their Martha Stewart Everyday glass tabletops exploding into thousands of tiny pieces. The tables, sold at Kmart, have a long history of spontaneously shattering, and they dont show signs of stopping anytime soon, not that anyone in authority seems to care.

    Months after a federal court dismissed a class action lawsuit alleging that the tabletops are defectively manufactured, owners of the product remain without recourse and several hundred dollars poorer, as they are left to clean the glass off of their patios and sometimes dig it out of their skin.

    Late last year, a federal court in Illinois rejected class certification in the action, ruling that the court would have to decide individual issues of causation for each plaintiff, making a class action impracticable.

    The suit, originally filed in 2005 on behalf of lead plaintiff Michelle Ronat, alleged that Kmart refused to give aggrieved customers refunds or replacements, since the tabletops werent covered under warranty. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) — named after convicted felon and media darling Martha Stewart — when confronted by consumers, passed the buck to JRA Manufacturing, the Chinese company that produced the tables. The manufacturer, in turn, said the problem lay in a design defect attributable to MSLOs designers.

    The suit, prosecuted by Horwitz, Horwitz & Paradis, a New York class action firm, sought replacement tabletops for an estimated 300,000 consumers. With tabletops potentially costing as much as $500 apiece, the action threatened to leave MSLO liable for up to $150 million.

    The glass replacements cost so much because JRA, the manufacturer, declared bankruptcy in 2007, leaving consumers unable to obtain factory replacements. Instead, they have been forced to have glass custom-made to fit their tables. In some cases, individuals could end up paying more for the replacement top than they did for the entire table set in the first place.

    Although MSLO contends that a relatively small number of consumers were affected, ConsumerAffairs.com has received hundreds of complaints over the past five years, as have other Internet sites. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the complaints increase predictably each spring, as tables are brought back outside and exposed to the sun's rays.

    Additionally, according to the lawsuit, because the tabletops werent covered under warranty, Kmart didnt keep records of most complaints. As a result, the complaints Kmart does have on file likely represent only a fraction of actual incidents.

    Similar complaints

    Affected consumers experiences are strikingly similar, and the most common and disturbing thread is that there is no way to know when a table is about to explode.

    My Martha Stewart Glass topped patio table exploded after only one year of use, writes Marylou of Brockton, Ma. I am left with a set of six chairs and no table to use. I received minor cuts from cleaning up all of the exploded glass which is fine but emotionally I was very upset after spending all that money on something that is now useless to us.

    In a similar vein, Judy of Unionville, Oh., writes, Table shattered into a million pieces. Paid good money for poor quality. It is so sad especially with the economy like it is. Who can afford this[?].

    A considerable number of consumers have had more than one table shatter. Some bought a set and ended up having several shatter over time, as happened to Lisa of Austintown, Oh.

    Two years after I purchased this set, the glass on the leaf design coffee table shattered into a hundred pieces, writes Lisa. The following year, the glass on the round table shattered ... The damage was not due to abuse by the owner. A defect in the product is obviously the cause.

    Others replaced tables that exploded, only to relive the experience months or years later. Thats what happened to Margaret of Cedar Rapids, IA.

    [We] have now had TWO patio tables from the Victoria Collection explode, writes Margaret. The first time it was over a year since we had it and our Kmart replaced it with a new table. It just happened again and it has been over [a] year or more.

    CPSC mulls the problem

    Martha Stewart Tabletops

    Trina Harris' visiting family was sitting at this table when it exploded in Yakima, Wash.

    Stephanie Green's "Lazy Susan" portion of her table exploded after less than two years of ownership in Van Nuys, Calif.

    Karen Dozier's local Kmart in Bakersfield, Calif., told her that it was probably vandalism that caused her table to shatter while she vacationed in Cancun, Mexico.

    More about Martha ...

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) looked into the problem in 2006. The Commission asked MSLO to redesign the tables which MSLO has supposedly done but never issued a recall.

    Even after years of complaints, the official cause of the problem remains a mystery. In 2006, ConsumerAffairs.com contacted glass experts to get their opinions, but many were at a loss.

    Ken Toney of the Custom Glass Corporation in Kittanning, Pa., told ConsumerAffairs.com that he ha[d] no idea what would cause that. He speculated that, because the glass was made overseas, a defect in the molecular compound could have caused it to shatter.

    However, William Lingnell, an expert who testified in the Ronat action, had a different theory. He hypothesized that the glass tabletop bumps against the tables metal frame, creating microcracks in the glass. According to Lingnell, these cracks eventually cause the glass to explode entirely. Lingnell noted that the edges of the glass are not dressed, or smoothed over; rather, theyre jagged and rough. This makes it easier for the glass to bump up against the metal edges of the table, form hairline cracks, and eventually explode.

    The JRA tabletops are made from tempered glass, which breaks into very small pieces, making it less dangerous than glass that breaks into larger shards. Nonetheless, a number of consumers have reported cuts and other injuries caused by the tabletops.

    A few days ago, the table shattered right in front of me and on top of my feet and legs, describes Tracy of South Park, Pa., in a representative complaint. My son, thank God, had just gotten up less than a minute before it shattered. I was covered in blood and slivers of glass. It was quite frightening.

    Some injuries were even more startling. Pam of Beavercreek, Oh., described the scene after her table exploded with her granddaughter sitting underneath.

    Glass was all over her. One big chunk stuck in her calf. She had blood everywhere. We ended up ... [at the h]ospital. She had glass all over. She had stitches in her leg and she has tiny scars various places from the little [shattered] pieces.

    Martha's not in

    Customer service has been virtually nonexistent.

    Kmart refuses to cover the glass under consumers warranties and routinely directs them to MSLO. Martha Stewarts conglomerate, in turn, blames Kmart and JRA, and essentially refuses to assist customers.

    In November 2008, when Martha Stewart herself was confronted by New York reporter Arnold Diaz, she was adamant that, We are not the liable party. Kmart is responsible for the tables. She also insisted that, I have not heard of one reported injury. With Kmart and MSLO pointing fingers at each other, JRA long gone from the marketplace, and Ronats suit dead in the water, consumers are left to fend for themselves.

    The Diaz incident was highly unusual. The daily press, which spends much time and energy complaining about Internet bloggers supposedly poaching on its turf, looks down its nose at consumer journalism and spends more time planning the table arrangement for the annual Gridiron Show or Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner than it does confronting Martha Stewart about her exploding tables.

    One consumer did manage to get MSLOs attention. David Potts of Marietta, Ga., called Kmart in 2005 to report that his tabletop had shattered. At first, Kmart was characteristically unresponsive, until Potts told them something that grabbed their attention: he was also known in some circles as Dave Michaels, the 1990s-era CNN anchor. Kmart relayed the inquiry to MSLO, which promptly took care of Potts.

    Potts himself was injured as he tried to clean up the broken glass. As Potts told ConsumerAffairs.com, I was sitting at my computer when I heard this tremendous crash. I went outside to see what it was and it looked like my patio was covered in ice. It was the glass from the table top. I got a couple of slivers of glass in my fingers while I was cleaning it and here I am a year later and I can still feel pain in the tips of my fingers.

    Causation questions

    The class action suit was felled by individual issues of causation. Specifically, the court noted that some table tops may have been broken because of human error, such as a flower pot being dropped on the glass, rather than by spontaneous shattering. The court also said that differences in state laws made the class unmanageable.

    Individual causation factors are often used to justify the dismissal of consumer class actions. Just last week, a class action involving Microsoft Vista was tossed on similar grounds.

    The court also noted that it would be difficult to fashion a uniform remedy for all class members. Since some plaintiffs tables were practically brand new when they shattered, while others had been around for years, it would be impossible for the court to decide how to distribute a settlement award.

    Despite the run of bad luck, owners of Martha Stewart tables are not completely out of options. They can file a complaint on ConsumerAffairs.com, or can report their experience to the CPSC. Consumers could theoretically file their own suits, although the costs of doing so would likely outweigh the amount recovered from MSLO.

     



    Consumers Left to Sweep Up as Martha Stewart Tables Shatter...

    Manufacturer of Martha Stewart Tables Declares Bankruptcy

    Affiliated Company Dissolved a Few Days Earlier

    As if owning a shattered Martha Stewart patio table isnt bad enough, it appears that the tables warranty may now be worthless because the manufacturer, JRA Furniture, has filed for bankruptcy.

    The company possibly filed for bankruptcy to avoid responsibility in a pending class action lawsuit, said lead counsel on the case, Richard Doherty from Horwitz, Horwitz and Associates in Chicago.

    Theres no way to know for sure, but I think the facts speak for themselves, Doherty said.

    The nationwide class action seeks restitution from Martha Stewarts company, Omnimedia, Kmart, which is owned by Sears, and JRA. However, the bankruptcy filing likely means that JRA will not face any meaningful liability.

    JRA Furniture was essentially a shell company for JRA Century, a company based in Taiwan that actually manufactured the tables, Doherty said. The company continuously denied any connection with JRA Century even after the Court ordered it to produce documents which included an Agency Agreement between the two JRAs.

    JRA Century recently dissolved and Doherty said he doesnt believe its a coincidence the two companies collapsed within days of each other.

    Although JRAs website is still active, no one is answering its two customer service numbers and an e-mail to its customer service department bounced back.

    For years, ConsumerAffairs.com has received a constant stream of complaints from consumers whose Martha Stewart-branded patio tables spontaneously shatter.

    I was sitting at my computer when I heard this tremendous crash, said David Potts of Marietta, Ga. I went outside to see what it was and it looked like my patio was covered in ice. It was the glass from the table top.

    I got a couple of slivers of glass in my fingers while I was cleaning it and here I am a year later and I can still feel pain in the tips of my fingers, Potts said.

    Since September 2003, at least 515 readers have shared stories about their Martha Stewart glass tops spontaneously shattering.

    No Recall

    Despite the numbers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has not issued a recall.

    A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency revealed their own thick stack of complaints and letters from the CPSC to Kmart/Stewarts lawyer, Eric Rubel.

    In a letter to Rubel dated July 14, 2006, CPSC Deputy Director Marc Schoem states that Kmart and Martha Stewart had indicated that it has voluntarily implemented actions to address reports of the tempered glass shattering.

    The explanation of those actions takes up three lines of text in the letter but was redacted because of FOIA exemptions that protect trade secrets.

    Although this shows that Omnimedia has been aware of the problem for at least a year, its unclear whether anything has been done to remedy it as the number of complaints from consumers who recently purchased the tables from Kmart, continue to pour in.

    The stack of documents uncovered from the CPSCs investigation does not reveal why the agency did not implement a recall and CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said there is no longer any investigation.

    Although JRA is bankrupt, the tables are still widely sold at Kmart under Stewarts name and at the Home Depot under the Hampton Bay line of furniture.

    When Martha entered into this agreement with Kmart back in 1997, analysts looked at it as an effort by Kmart to upgrade its image by offering higher-quality, reputable, brand name goods unavailable anywhere else, Doherty wrote in an e-mail.

    Well, come to find out that the tables are not high quality, not reputable, defective, made by a company that went bankrupt as soon as its liability into the case became apparent and the goods aren't exclusive, either, given that you can by JRA-manufactured tables at places like the Home Depot, too. This is the quality image sought by Kmart and Martha Stewart?

    No Comment

    Omnimedia and Sears representatives did not reply to two e-mails requesting comment on what the companies are doing to remedy the problem and whether or not either company will honor the defunct warranty.

    Sears spokesman Christian Brathwhaite said Kmart would "work with" its customers whose tables have exploded.

    "Given JRAs recent chapter 7 filing, JRA will likely be unable to honor its manufacturers warranty," Brathwaite noted. "As a service to our customers, Kmart intends to work with our customers to attempt to resolve issues that would have otherwise been covered by that manufacturer warranty."

    Brathwaite said customers should visit Kmart Customer Care or call toll-free 866-562-7848.

    Doherty said that although JRAs bankruptcy may slow the cases progress, he is still going forward and that consumers whose table tops explode should:

    • Keep a sampling of the glass in a bag for proof;

    • File complaints with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, your state attorney general, and Consumer Affairs.Com; and

    • Contact Kmart and Omnimedia to remind them how dangerous their tables are.

     

    Manufacturer of Martha Stewart Tables Declares Bankruptcy...

    Martha Does Macy's

    But She's Not Leaving Kmart Bereft

    Macy's is launching a new line of Martha Stewart-branded home furnishings, called Martha Stewart Collection. It's an attempt to move upscale from the problem-plagued Martha Stewart Everday line carried by Kmart.

    The new line, set for launch in the fall of 2007, will include bed and bath furnishings, casual dinnerware, flatware, glassware, cookware, garden furniture and holiday decorations.

    Kmart consumers have been up in arms for years over problems with the Everyday line, most notably glass-topped patio tables that have a bad habit of shattering without warning.

    At least one class action lawsuit has been filed charging that Martha Stewart's company knew of the problem but failed to warn consumers.

    "The glass to my Martha Stewart Bar Harbor Patio Collection shattered for no reason last night. The glass which I thought was supposed to be safety glass is in a millon pieces all over my deck," said Leslie of Beachwood, NJ.

    Others have complained about rust and excessive wear and tear.

    "I bought the Victorian Dining Set with table and umbrella and 5 chairs as well as the love seat and 2 rockers and the chaise lounge. They are peeling after only two summers out and the cushions and umbrella are very faded and ripping and worst of all I cannot find replacement cushions anywhere," Marganne of Klamath Falls, OR, complained.

    Macy's, a unit of Federated Department Stores, has had problems competing against discounters like Target and home-furnishings superstores like Bed, Bad & Beyond. Having its own "exclusive" brands is supposed to help Macy's differentiate itself.

    This doesn't mean Martha is walking out on Kmart. Her Everyday line will continue to line Kmart's aisles through at least 2009, when the current contract expires.

    The new Collection line is being called "affordable luxury" while the Everyday collection is being positioned as, well, less upscale. In other words, cheaper.

    Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. already has an agreement to sell housewares and other home products under the Martha Stewart Everyday brand exclusively through Kmart, a division of Sears Holdings Corp.

    "This line not only covers the fundamental parts of our home-furnishings business, it also allows us to expand our seasonal and holiday offerings," said Janet Grove, a Federated vice chairwoman and head of Macy's Merchandising Group.

    Federated last year acquired the rival May Department Stores Co., creating an 850-store national chain.

    Martha Stewart's Martha Stewart Living Inc. said it sought to expand its reach beyond Kmart after research found that some 30 million women go to a store specifically because it carries Martha Stewart products.

    "With all the new Macy's stores, virtually all our markets will be covered," said Susan Lyne, president and CEO of Martha Stewart Living.

     

    Martha Does Macy's...