Consumer Alert: Max. Fill Lines Too High for Pressure Programs
A large number of multi-cookers with pressure programs have an inner bowl with the “max/full” line at a level that is unsafe for pressure cooking.
Multi-cookers are electric pressure cookers that offer additional cooking functions such as Slow Cooking, Rice Cooking and even Yogurt making in the same machine. These machines can run temperature and time-controlled programs with and without pressure.
Every pressure cooker manual has an “Important Safeguards” section at the beginning that says a pressure cooker should not be filled with food and liquid more than 1/2 full when pressure cooking beans, grains and rice (or “foamy” foods) and no more than 2/3 full for cooking anything else. The handful of instruction manuals we reviewed for affected multi-cookers also had this notice. This filling requirement is one of the safety features. It ensures that foods do not bubble-up and clog or interfere with the valves in the lid. The level for beans, grains and rice is lower to compensate for the fact that these foods can double or triple in size when cooked and generate foam. If the pressure and/or safety valves in the lid become clogged the cooker will continue to build pressure beyond the cooker’s ability.
Also, some multi-cookers may have photos on the box or other materials that show inner bowl filled to the top; or, infomercial chefs may lift the lid of a multi-cooker to “reveal” food coming up to the edge of the cooker. These are just marketing illustrations to make the food more visible. They are not filling guidelines or recommendations.
Some electric multi-cookers with pressure programs have inner bowls that “max/full” line that is to be respected for non-pressure programs (such as slow cooking). Depending on the model, the line in marked on the bowl indicating when it is 3/4th, 4/5ths, just the words “max” or “full” close to the top edge of the bowl.
These non-pressure max/full markings are too high to be used for pressure programs and, especially when combined with recipes that expand (such as a pea soup or a chili), it is very likely that food could be trapped into the safety systems in the lid and compromise their functionality.
Even though electric and multi-cookers can detect an unsafe temperature/pressure level inside the pressure cooker and automatically turn off the appliance – the food inside will continue to boil and build pressure for at least 20 additional minutes until the heating element has cooled.
There are at least six injury reports filed with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the last two years likely attributed to this defect. The reports describe unexpected forceful ejection of the lid and contents during use of a pressure program while the consumer is cooking soup, beans or chili.
It is absolutely safe to pressure cook soups, beans and chilis, as long as industry-recommended fill levels noted in the instruction manual are followed.
how to check if a pressure multi-cooker is affected
If your electric pressure cooker’s inner bowl already displays the “1/2 full” and “2/3 full” markings, your cooker is likely not affected by this alert.
Instead, if your cooker’s inner bowl shows cups, liters, quarts or just “max” near the top edge we recommend checking that the markings are in the right place. To check if your pressure cooker’s max or full line is at the right level fill your electric pressure multi-cooker with the appropriate amount of water for its size.
Taking these measurements can be a little bit tricky for U.S. Consumers. As of the writing of this alert, all electric pressure cookers on the market are manufactured in China and their inner bowls are actually produced in “liter” sizes even though they are marketed in the U.S. in “quarts.” In addition, some inner-bowls have scales for “cup” but because of these different measuring systems the ticks may not match-up with standard U.S. 8 oz. measuring cups. If you already have a 1 liter pitcher taking these measurements will be a little bit easier -some 4-cup U.S. Measuring cups may already have 1 liter (aka 1000ml) markings. Another way to easily measure the insert, is to put it on a scale, set it to zero (tar) and add water up to the indicated weight in ounces or milliliters.
Here’s a table that gives the measurements at each fill level in liters and U.S. 8oz measuring cups.
correct multi-cooker inner bowl MAX/FULL levelsCups measurements have been rounded down to the nearest 1/4 cup measurement - for ease of measurement.
|Pressure Cooker Size|||||Max 1/2 Full capacity|||||Max 2/3 Full Capacity|
||||(beans, rice, grains & fruit)|||||(all other ingredients)|
|4 liters/quarts|||||2 (2,000 ml)||8 1/4 cups||68 oz|||||2.64 (2,640 ml)||11 cups||90 oz|
|5|||||2.5||10 1/2||85|||||3.3||13 3/4||112|
|6|||||3||12 1/2||101|||||4||16 3/4||135|
|8|||||4||16 3/4||135|||||5.28||22 1/4||179|
if your cooker is affected
If the markings in your pressure cooker do not match-up with the 1/2 and 2/3 full fill levels noted above, write down at which mark the water level arrived on the cover of your pressure cooker manual. If another member of the household will be using the pressure programs of your multi-cooker, be sure explain the maximum fill levels – also do this also when you lend the cooker or give one as a gift.
There is no danger in using multi-cookers with high max/full line noted on the liner as long as the correct maximum fill levels (1/2 full for beans, grains & rice, 2/3 full for everything else) are respected while pressure cooking.
initial list of affected/un-affected cookers
We took a look at marketing photos and videos online to compile this initial list of affected cookers. If you have a multi-cooker that is affected by this alert, please take a photo of the inner bowl and post it along with your measurement results in the comments to help others with cookers affected by this alert. Thank you.