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Conagra Sued By People Who Say They Were Hurt By Exploding Cans Of Cooking Spray

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Attorneys claim a kitchen explosion that was caught on video was caused by a can of cooking spray.

Several people who say they were burned in similar explosions are suing the makers of PAM cooking spray and similar products.

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

"All I do is cry and wonder 'Why me,'" said Maria Mariani.

She just got out after spending a month in the hospital. Mariani survived burns covering nearly 30 percent of her body and three surgeries.

She claims its 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

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

Mariani took CBS2's Andrea Grymes to the apartment to show where it happened.

"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 Brands, which manufactures PAM and other similar cooking sprays. Hers is one of six lawsuits filed Tuesday, stemming from cases across the country.

Their 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, according to their attorney, 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, Conagra says 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 point to the warning labels, which say "can may burst if left on stove or near heat source."

Conagra says 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.


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