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Lawsuits claim people injured by exploding Pam cooking spray cans

Lawsuits allege Pam cooking spray is unsafe

At least eight burn victims have sued the maker of Pam cooking spray, claiming that they were severely injured when the cans exploded in their kitchens, CBS New York reports. Attorneys claim that one kitchen explosion was even caught on video. The incidents involved Pam cooking spray or similar products from Conagra Brands that may have an allegedly faulty, U-shaped vent system in the bottom — a design the company says it has phased out.

The lawsuits claim the sprays are not safe, but Conagra disagrees.

"All I do is cry and wonder 'Why me?'" Maria Mariani told CBS New York.

Mariani, of Staten Island, New York, recently was released after spending a month in the hospital. She survived burns covering nearly 30 percent of her body and three surgeries. She claims it's all because of a can of Wellsley Farms Cooking Spray, manufactured by the makers of Pam.

"It was the scariest thing ever. I was confused, scared, I didn't know what to do," Mariani said.

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Maria Mariani told CBS New York how she was hospitalized after a can of cooking spray manufactured by Conagra Brands exploded in the kitchen she was working in, on Staten Island. CBS News

Mariani said on April 5, she had turned on the stove burners to help heat her mom's apartment and a short time later a can of cooking spray just inches away exploded.

"It was in the corner," Mariani said. "The burners were on ... I was walking with the burners on and I went to go [shut off the burner] and everything just exploded."

Mariani is now suing Conagra, which manufactures Pam and other similar cooking sprays. Hers is one of six lawsuits filed Tuesday across the country.

The law firm released video they say shows a can of Pam exploding in a restaurant in Houston. The cook was engulfed and left with serious injuries. The attorneys say the cooking spray was on a shelf in front of the grill.

The cans in question, the attorneys say, usually hold 10 ounces or more and have a special venting mechanism and are sold at wholesale stores like Costco, not the smaller cans typically sold in supermarkets.

But in a statement to CBS New York, Conagra said it stands by all of its products:

Please know the safety of our products and our consumers is always our top priority.

When PAM is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100-percent safe and effective product. PAM Cooking Sprays is used safely and properly by millions of people several times a day, every single day. The product has been used for more than 50 years for the baking, grilling and cooking needs of consumers everywhere.

All PAM Cooking Sprays include large, clear instructions, warnings and cautions on both the front and back of the packaging alerting consumers that the product should be used responsibly as it is flammable, and that it should not be left on a stove or near a heat source, should not be sprayed near an open flame, and should not be stored above 120°F.

The vented can design in question, was used in market on a limited number of cans over the last several years. We redesign packaging in the ordinary course of business, and just as we introduced the vented can years ago, we removed it from production, earlier this year, as we sought to standardize our cans across the entire aerosol cooking spray product line. So, that design is no longer in production.

We fully stand by this product. To reiterate, when PAM is used correctly, as instructed, it is a 100-percent safe and effective product.

The company points to the warning labels on the product, which say, "Can may burst if left on stove or near heat source."

Conagra said in the normal course of business it stopped producing the larger vented cans earlier this year, and insists any still on store shelves are safe if used properly.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it's aware of the lawsuits and is looking into the issue.