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Consumers are urged not to use turkey fryers
when preparing holiday meals because of the dangers
associated with the devices. Tests have shown
that the fryers have a high risk of tipping over,
or spilling hot oil, leading to fires, burns,
or other injuries.
The cooking method, which has become increasingly
popular in recent years, requires placing the turkey
in three gallons or more of oil, heated by propane.
Some opt for frying, believing it delivers better
taste and cuts down on cooking time. But the units
have come under scrutiny recently as Underwriters
Laboratories, Inc., an independent product safety-testing
organization, has decided not to certify, with
their UL mark, any turkey fryer.
Some of the concerns about turkey fryers:
- When the turkey is placed in the hot oil, oil
may spill onto the burner, creating a fire.
- The units can easily tip over, spilling hot, scalding oil onto anyone or anything
- Most units do not have automatic thermostat controls, so oil may heat until
it catches fire.
- The sides, lids, and handles get extremely hot and may cause burns.
Consumers should instead use cooking equipment that has been tested and approved by
a recognized testing facility.
Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires
and home fire injuries. Unattended cooking is the
primary cause of these fires.
A Message From The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages the use of outdoor
gass fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil. These turkey fryers
use a substantial quantity of cooking oil at high temperatures, and units currently
available for home use pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at
some point during the cooking process. The use of turkey fryers by consumers
can lead to devastating burns, other injuries and the destruction of property.
NFPA urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional
establishments, such as grocery stores, specialty food retailers, and restaurants
for the preparation of the dish, or consider a new type of "oil less" turkey fryer."
- Hot oil may splash or spill at any point during the cooking process, when
the fryer is jarred or tipped over, the turkey is placed in the fryer or
removed, or the turkey is moved from the fryer to the table. Any contact
between hot oil and skin could result in serious injury. Any contact
between hot oil and nonmetallic materials could lead to serious damage.
- A major spill of hot oil can occur with fryers designed for outdoor use and
using a stand as these units are particularly vulnerable to upset or
collapse, followed by a major spill of hot oil. Newer countertop units using
a solid base appear to reduce this particular risk. NFPA does not believe
that consumer education alone can make the risks of either type of turkey
fryer acceptably low because of the large quantities of hot oil involved and
the speed and severity of burn likely to occur with contact.
- In deep frying, oil is heated to temperatures of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or
more. Cooking oil is combustible, and if it is heated beyond its cooking
temperature, its vapors can ignite. This is a fire danger separate from the
burn danger inherent in the hot oil. Overheating can occur if temperature
controls, which are designed to shut off the fryer if the oil overheats, are
defective, or if the appliance has no temperature controls.
- Propane fired
turkey fryers are designed for outdoor use, particularly for
Thanksgiving, by which time both rain and snow are common in many
parts of the country. If rain or snow strikes exposed hot cooking oil, the
result can be a splattering of the hot oil or a conversion of the rain or snow
to steam, either of which can lead to burns. Use of Propane fired
fryers indoors to avoid bad weather is contrary to their design and
dangerous in its own right. Also, moving an operating turkey fryer indoors
to escape bad weather is extremely risky. Fires have occurred when
turkey fryers were used in a garage or barn or under eaves to keep the
appliance out of the rain.
- The approximately 5 gallons of oil in these devices introduce an additional
level of hazard to deep fryer cooking, as does the size and weight of the
turkey, which must be safely lowered into and raised out of the large
quantity of hot oil. Many turkeys are purchased frozen, and they may not
be fully thawed when cooking begins. As with a rainy day, a defrosting
turkey creates the risk of contact between hot cooking oil.
- There is a new outdoor turkey cooking appliance that does not use oil.
NFPA believes these should be considered as an alternative. NFPA
understands that this appliance will be listed by a recognized testing
NFPA continues to believe that turkey fryers that use oil, as currently designed,
are not suitable for acceptably safe use by even a well informed
consumer. Consumers may find packaging of turkey fryers displaying
independent product safety testing labels. NFPA is familiar with the details of
these test standards and does not believe that they are sufficiently
comprehensive regarding the different ways in which serious harm can occur,
and, in some cases, regarding the different parts of the turkey fryer that need to