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Was Keurig too slow in recalling dangerous brewer?

When more than 7 million Keurig coffee makers were recalled on Tuesday in the U.S. and Canada, one detail stood out: 90 injuries and 200 incidents with the machine were reported prior to the recall.

Under federal law, companies are required to report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission when a product risks causing a serious injury. Generally speaking, a machine that sprays steaming hot water would appear to have that potential.

Most recalls are issued without a single incident, let alone injury. Sometimes, there are a handful of problems -- enough to let a company know that reported issues with a product aren't flukes, but rather a possible defect. And then, every so often, a recall comes only after a great many problems have been reported.

"The satisfaction and safety of our consumers is our highest priority," said Suzanne DuLong, Keurig vice president, by email. "After identifying this issue, we took immediate action by voluntarily notifying the CSPC and Health Canada. Over time, we have received approximately 90 reports of injuries related to hot liquid, a very small number relative to the approximately 7.2 million MINI Plus units in the U.S. and Canada, which made it difficult to detect."

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The Keurig machines that were recalled, the Keurig MINI Plus Brewing System, have been on the market for the past five years.

The CPSC said it was important to get the word out about the dangers of the machines as soon as possible, even though the holidays will shut down the Keurig hotline twice over the next week.

"CPSC staff believed it was important to announce the Keurig recall today, as we know that families are gathering for the holidays and many of them will be enjoying a cup of coffee," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson told CBS MoneyWatch. "We want to be sure that there are no further burn injuries during this holiday season. It is important that affected consumers respond right away to this recall and not put it on their to-do list after the holidays."

He said the agency will look into whether Keurig waited too long to report the product defects.

"As with all recall cases, our staff work to get the recall announcement out to the public first, and then they go back and review the file to assess whether there are any reporting violations," Wolfson said.

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