Instant Pot is one of the most popular kitchen appliances of the past few years. Released in 2010, the new pressure cooker became an overnight hit in 2016. An Amazon Prime promotion resulted in 215,000 orders in a single day. At that point, “Instant Pot” became a household word. Revenues from the power pressure cooker now double every year.
So when the media started warning about a potential “Instant Pot meltdown,” of course owners of the electric pressure cookers worried. It turns out that the recall actually applies to another type of electric cooker. The unit is distributed by the same company that created Instant Pot. Because the Gem Multicooker is little known, early news stories used stock images of the pressure cooker and relied on the Instant Pot name to make headlines.
Is Your Instant Pot a Hazard?
It is important to note that the current concern does not affect the Instant Pot pressure cooker. The Gem Multicooker is an electric cooker for cooking roasts and other large meals. The 6-quart cooker is really more of an oversized, rectangular slow cooker. It also has options for baking, steaming, stewing, browning foods, and cooking rice.
The cooker in question is called the Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicooker. Only some of the Gem multicookers are a concern. Other Gem multicookers and other appliances sold by Double Insight are unaffected at this time. So if you own another Instant Pot appliance, you can stop worrying! This product recall doesn’t affect your Instant Pot power pressure cooker.
What Can Go Wrong with the Instant Pot Multicooker?
While some headlines have described an “Instant Pot meltdown,” hinting that an electric pressure cooker might blow up, this is pure sensationalism. Remember that the Gem Multicooker is not a pressure cooker It is more of an electric turkey roaster or a slow cooker, and does not cook food under pressure.
So even if you do have one of the affected multicookers, you don’t have to worry that one day the appliance will suddenly turn into Chernobyl or Fukushima! The issue is actually much less dramatic than it sounds.
The problem stems from a manufacturing defect that created a gap between the inner pot of the multicooker and the heating plate. Some of the appliances have overheated, which causes the plastic on the underneath of the product to melt. This could potentially cause a fire. Of the 107 reports received, only 5 incidents of overheating caused property damage. None have resulted in injuries.
So, while it’s important not to use your multicooker if it’s in the affected batches, the alarmism around the entire Instant Pot line could actually do a lot more harm than good. If your Gem Multicooker is in the affected batches, simply stop using it and return it to Walmart for a free replacement.
Instructions for Consumers Affected by the Instant Pot Recall
On March 1st, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an official recall of the Gem Multicooker. The multicookers that are affected are Gem 65 8-in1 models sold at Walmart stores and through the Walmart.com online store. More than 100,000 units were sold by Walmart from August 2017 through January 2018. These Instant Pot multicookers are labelled with batch codes 1728, 1730, 1731, 1734, and 1746.
To find the batch code of your Gem multicooker, look for the silver sticker on the underneath of the Instant Pot unit. The batch code is a 4-digit code at the bottom right of this label. If your Gem belongs to one of the affected batches, Double Insight asks you to stop using the cooker immediately and unplug it. You should return it to a Walmart store for a free replacement model.
Consumers who don’t live near a Walmart store should contact Double Insights for more information. You will be able to cut the power cord from your multicooker and send it in with a request for a replacement unit. You can call Double Insight toll-free at 1-888-891-1473 or get more information online.
If you’re wondering why the recall isn’t listed on Canada’s recalls and safety alerts page, it may be due to the fact that the affected units were only sold through Walmart stores in the United States, and through the Walmart.com online store. You must return the multicooker to an American Walmart store to get the replacement unit.
Pressure Cooker Safety
Before Instant Pot, pressure cooking had fallen out of vogue. The stovetop pressure cookers of the 20th century scared a lot of people. There had been incidents of pressure cookers exploding because of a blocked pressure valve.
Admittedly, working with steam under pressure can be a somewhat daunting. I remember when my mother bought herself a stovetop pressure cooker back in the early 90s, and gave one to me as a gift. She stressed the safety issues and warned me to follow the instructions to the letter. She’d heard the horror stories of earlier decades and wanted to be sure I wouldn’t end up a sad statistic.
Using a stovetop pressure cooker turned out to be less scary than I’d expected it to be. But I still prefer the new power pressure cookers. These units generally have multiple safety features to prevent accidents and injuries. Having a programmed cook time and temperature adds both to the convenience of pressure cooking and to its safety. I have to say that I use my electric pressure cooker a lot more than I ever used my stovetop model.
It’s still crucial to follow the directions for operating a power pressure cooker. Never overfill the unit, and only use it as directed. If you are new to pressure cooking, Instant Pot recommends you do a trial run of the pressure cooker, using plain water. This is a really good idea for anyone who is trying out a new pressure cooker. It will give you a chance to get used to the controls and see how the unit works, before adding food to the pot.
Instant Pot Recall: Bottom Line
There is an active Instant Pot recall in the United States. It applies to an 8 in 1 multi cooker, and not to Instant Pot pressure cookers. The affected units are Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicookers sold exclusively through Walmart. If you own one of the units in question, you can return it to a Walmart store for a free replacement.
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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users Alexas_Fotos, RitaE, Sabrina_Ripke_Fotografie, and jackmac34
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