Pyrex dispute explodes into federal court

The glassware's manufacturer sues trade journal over article about shattering glassware

For more than seven years, consumers have complained about their Pyrex glassware coming apart -- "exploding," to use the most generally-employed term -- only to meet vociferous objections from World Kitchen, the Reston, Va., company that makes Pyrex.

Now the company has filed suit in federal court against the American Ceramic Society, claiming the society disparaged its product in a "sensational" article in the September issue of the society's monthly bulletin. The suit also names Peter Wray, the editor of The American Ceramic Society Bulletin; and the co-authors of the article, Richard Bradt and Richard Martens.

In the article, the defendants claimed that "American-made glass cookware, including Pyrex brand glass cookware made by World Kitchen, is unsafe for typical cooking in consumers' kitchens, poses a significant risk of injury to consumers, and is substantially less resistant to breakage during normal use in consumers' kitchens than foreign-made glass cookware," according to the complaint, Courthouse News Service reported.

World Kitchen insists the claims are untrue and overblown.

"Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of household cooks have used more than a billion of pieces of Pyrex glass cookware safely in their kitchens for generations, and with knowledge of the information and data confirming Pyrex's exemplary safety record, the defendants launched a sensational, multi-publication campaign of disparagement against American-made glass cookware, including Pyrex glass cookware, alarmingly and falsely claiming that Pyrex glass cookware does not provide an adequate margin of safety for typical kitchen cooking, including for making recipes from the well-known cookbook 'The Joy of Cooking,' and falsely claiming that Pyrex glass cookware poses a significant risk of injury from 'shattering' or 'exploding' cookware, when, in fact, this is not the case," World Kitchen's suit alleges.

"Prior to publishing their sweeping, alarming and highly disparaging assertions falsely impugning the safety of the entire American glass cookware industry, including Pyrex glass cookware, the defendants conducted no testing of American-made or foreign-made products in normal cooking conditions to substantiate their false and disparaging comparative claims that American glass cookware, including Pyrex glass cookware, is multiple times more susceptible to breakage during normal use in consumers' kitchens and less safe than foreign-made glass cookware."

Pyrex glass cookware is used in about 90 million U.S. homes, or 80 percent of U.S. kitchens, according to World Kitchen's lawsuit.

World Kitchen says that Pyrex has an exemplary safety record, and that "consumer reports of injuries attributed to breakage of glass cookware from any cause, including incidents that involve product misuse or another manufacturer's brand, represent only a tiny fraction of a percent of the Pyrex glass cookware used in American kitchens for generations."

Consumers rate Pyrex Cookware

Challenges complaints

World Kitchen has consistently challenged claims by consumers who report problems with their Pyrex bakeware and has challenged ConsumerAffairs and other publications with legal action for reporting such claims.

In a 2008 statement to ConsumerAffairs, World Kitchen spokesman Bryan Glancy challenged the accuracy of published consumer complaints:

"We cannot speculate on how someone was using their bakeware, and whether or not they were using it correctly. Without examining the product, there is no confirmation that the product involved was Pyrex bakeware (as opposed to another manufacturers product). For this reason, unsubstantiated and unconfirmed reports of breakage should not be used as the basis for any conclusions to be drawn about Pyrex products."

World Kitchen demands a retraction and apology, a corrective press release, and wants the defendants ordered to remove the article from its website.

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