This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

(Article Online: )
Glass bakeware that shatters
We put Pyrex and Anchor Hocking dishes to the test
(Reviewed January 2011)
When she celebrated Thanksgiving in 2007 at her daughter's home, Patricia Szczcenia oI Lansing, Ill., Iollowed
Iamily custom, cooking a ham to go along with the roasted turkey. She says she baked the ham at 350 degrees in a
Pyrex glass baking dish. But what happened when she and her daughter Giselle opened the oven door to baste the
ham, she says, was anything but customary.
"The baking dish just exploded as my daughter was about to touch it, sending pieces oI glass and hot juices Irom the
ham Ilying everywhere," says Szczcenia, 63. "We had splash burns on our arms and the tops oI our legs, and my 3-
year-old granddaughter stepped on a piece oI glass beIore I could get her out oI the kitchen. I can't begin to tell you
how scary it was."
She Iiled a report with the Consumer Product SaIety Commission and contacted the manuIacturer. The company
said it is possible that she had not Iollowed the bakeware's instructions and that it could not conIirm that the product
was Pyrex because she had not sent the shards Ior the company to examine. Szczcenia says she has no doubt the dish
that shattered was Pyrex because she'd just purchased it Ior her daughter a Iew weeks earlier, and as a loyal Pyrex
customer Ior 30 years, she always looked Ior that label.
"I loved my old Pyrex, and I certainly know how to use it properly," she says, "but it seems like the only correct
instructions Ior this new Pyrex would be not to use the dish near heat at all."
Pyrex and other brands oI glass bakeware are a staple oI many kitchens, with marketing that dates back decades,
touting its versatile uses. In recent years, news reports and Internet postings about glass bakeware unexpectedly
shattering have some consumers worried about saIety and conIused about instructions. Packaging may prominently
say Ireezer-saIe and oven-saIe. But consumers might not be aware oI warnings which can appear on the back oI a
label in type this small with cautions about preheating the oven, cooling, use oI liquids in the pan, and more.
Pyrex is Born
The story of glass bakeware begins in the U.S. railroad yards of the early 1900s, when a heat-resistant glass
made by Corning was used to prevent the glass lantern globes from shattering. The tough glass was called
Nonex, for nonexpanding glass. It worked almost too well, causing a decline in replacement sales.
But Corning physicist Jesse Littleton and his wiIe, Bessie, had a brainstorm in 1913 that helped create a new market
Ior borosilicate glass, leading to the launch oI Pyrex. When Bessie Littleton complained about one oI her casserole
dishes cracking in the oven, her husband brought home two sawed-oII bottoms oI battery jars made oI Nonex so that
she could bake in them. Corning Iiled a patent Ior its borosilicate glass bakeware and began selling it in 1915. The
Iirst dishes made oI the heat-resistant glass were pie plates, prompting the name Pyrex.
World Kitchen says it makes an average oI at least 44 million units per year, all at the Charleroi, Pa., plant it
acquired in 1998 when it bought Corning's Pyrex business in the U.S. Corning sold its European consumer Pyrex
business in 1994, and now ARC International, a French company, owns the rights in Europe. Anchor Hocking, the
other major U.S. glass bakeware maker, claims to sell more than 30 million pieces annually, all produced at its plant
in Lancaster, Ohio.

This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

A New Formula
In the U.S. a major change occurred in the way glass bakeware was made. World Kitchen and Anchor Hocking now
manuIacture all oI their glass bakeware using soda lime glass, which is less expensive to produce than borosilicate.
Soda lime is commonly used in products such as drinking glasses and bottles.
It's not clear when the switch occurred. Anchor Hocking spokeswoman Barbara WolI says borosilicate glass was
phased out by the industry by the early 1980s. World Kitchen vice president Jim Aikins says Pyrex glass bakeware
sold in the U.S. has consistently been made oI soda lime glass that has been strengthened through thermal tempering
at the Charleroi plant Ior about 60 years.
Sarah Horvath, a Corning spokeswoman, says Corning made Pyrex out oI both soda lime and borosilicate at several
locations beIore selling the U.S. business to World Kitchen in 1998, but provided no more details. P. Bruce Adams,
Iormerly an executive scientist at Corning, says that borosilicate was still being used to make Pyrex when he retired
in 1987. In any case, European glass bakeware dishes that we purchased Ior testing were made Irom borosilicate.
Tighter U.S. air pollution regulations and the need to reduce energy consumption were two Iactors prompting the
shiIt to soda lime in the early 1980s, according to Philip Ross, a glass industry consultant in Laguna Niguel, CaliI.
He Iormerly produced soda lime and borosilicate glasses as an engineer Ior Anchor Hocking. Sticking with
borosilicate would have required adding more pollution control equipment than Ior soda lime glass. While the
switch might have cut manuIacturers' expenses, some glass experts question whether it also increased saIety risks. A
Corning educational booklet Irom 1984 titled "All About Glass" describes soda lime as "the lowest in cost oI all
glasses" and notes that its "resistance to high temperatures and sudden changes oI temperature are not good." It
describes borosilicate as resistant to sudden changes in temperature and able to withstand higher operating
temperatures than soda lime can.
World Kitchen and Anchor Hocking say that the soda lime glass is strengthened with a thermal tempering process.
Aikins oI World Kitchen said via e-mail that compared with borosilicate glass bakeware, "heat strengthened
(tempered) soda lime glass such as that used to make Pyrex glass bakeware is signiIicantly more resistant to impact
breakage and comparably resistant to breakage caused by severe temperature diIIerential." That is, heat-treated soda
lime glass is less likely than borosilicate glass to break when bumped against a hard surIace and is no more likely to
shatter when exposed to sudden temperature changes, he says.
How We Tested
To assess those claims, we tested Iour brands oI 13x9-inch baking dishes. Anchor Oven Basics and Pyrex are made
in the U.S. oI heat-treated soda lime glass and sell Ior about $9 each. Pyrex Classic, made and sold in Europe Ior
about $13, and Arcuisine Elegance, made in France but also sold in the U.S. Ior about $29, are made oI borosilicate
glass. An outside lab conIirmed the glass compositions.
To determine whether one type oI bakeware was more resistant than another to cracking or shattering when
subjected to sudden temperature change (called thermal shock), we Iilled new dishes with sand and put them Ior 80
minutes in ovens set at varying temperatures. (The sand reached very high temperatures, more than double what
Iood normally would.) We then compared what happened when each hot dish was removed Irom the oven and
placed on a wet granite countertop, a situation likely to induce thermal shock.
While the test was contrary to instructions on the back oI the label, we wanted to test diIIerences among products in
laboratory conditions. We set the bar high in this extreme test because dishes that are scratched or damaged may not
oIIer the same saIety margin as new dishes, according to an expert we hired, and users may ignore or be unaware oI
the usage instructions. Our tests oIten go above and beyond manuIacturer instructions to assess the margin oI saIety
comparatively. We baked at least Iive samples oI each brand in a 450-degree oven. All oI the U.S. Pyrex and
Anchor dishes shattered when placed on the wet countertop. None oI the European dishes made oI borosilicate
broke, except one practice-run Arcuisine Elegance dish that had been through two baking cycles in our lab. At 400
degrees, we tested two samples each oI the U.S. brands against two samples oI Arcuisine. All oI the American-brand
dishes broke but the European brand did not.

This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

When the oven was turned up to 500 degrees, all three oI the European Pyrex dishes broke and two oI the three
Arcuisine dishes broke. We also tested a decades-old Pyrex dish in like-new condition given to us by a staII
member's mother. Made by Corning oI borosilicate glass, it didn't break, even at 500 degrees.
We also took samples oI sand-Iilled dishes Irom a 450-degree oven and placed them on a dry granite surIace; none
broke. But in two instances the U.S.-made Pyrex broke under diIIerent conditions. In one round oI testing, we
removed dishes Irom the 450-degree oven and placed them on top oI a smoothtop range with burners oII to quickly
take the temperature oI the sand inside beIore moving them to the wet surIace. Two American Pyrex dishes broke
when placed on the smoothtop; samples oI the three other brands remained intact Ior the measurement and were able
to be moved to the granite.
World Kitchen and Anchor Hocking also say tempered soda lime baking dishes have greater impact resistance,
meaning they would be less likely to break when dropped or struck. The results Irom our limited impact tests were
highly variable. But some samples made oI soda lime glass showed the highest impact resistance.
Flying Shards of Glass
Our analysis oI 163 incidents gives more clues about consumers' problems. About three-quarters said the bakeware
was used at temperatures oI 375 degrees or less, based on cases where the inIormation was recorded. More than halI
oI the incidents reportedly occurred while the bakeware was in the oven; almost a quarter occurred with the
bakeware cooling on a counter or stovetop. Only some seemed to involve clear violations oI saIety instructions, such
as placing the dish directly on a hot burner. In 14 cases, consumers said the dish shattered while they were holding
it. The accidents we studied included 152 incidents Irom CPSC Iiles, most obtained under Freedom oI InIormation
requests, 10 Irom interviews, and one Irom legal documents. Anchor Hocking claims not only that its tempered
soda lime bakeware "is stronger and more durable" than borosilicate but also that it "breaks into relatively small
pieces generally lacking sharp edges and shards when it does break."
That description diIIers dramatically Irom experiences reported by consumers when their Anchor Hocking bakeware
shattered. According to legal documents Iiled in a Iederal court in Iall 2008, Sharon Fluker oI Shreveport, La.,
opened her oven and started basting a rib roast baking at 350 degrees in an Anchor Hocking baking dish in Oct.
2007, and the dish exploded while she was bent over it.
Glass shards Ilew across the kitchen, including "multiple large glass Iragments," and hundreds oI "microscopic
shards penetrated her Iace and eyes, causing serious injury and loss oI vision," according to the petition Ior damages.
It also charged that Anchor Hocking "Iailed to suIIiciently temper the baking dish such that it could saIely and
reasonably be used." The case was settled out oI court in July 2009 with a conIidentiality order that prevents the
Flukers or their attorney Irom discussing the incident or the terms oI the settlement. WolI at Anchor Hocking says
the company does not comment on consumer complaints.
Burns Irom hot Iood or liquid in a pan that shattered are among the injuries reported in 12 incidents. In a case Irom
the CPSC, a 49-year old woman in North Carolina reported in February 2004 that an Anchor Hocking dish in which
she was cooking teriyaki chicken exploded while she was removing it Irom a 325-degree oven, spewing hot liquid
that caused Iirst- and second-degree burns.
World Kitchen and Anchor Hocking vigorously deIend the saIety record oI their products, saying that the number oI
breakage complaints they get Irom consumers involves only a Iraction oI 1 percent oI the glass bakeware sold. They
also point out that the number oI injuries associated with glass bakeware is remarkably small, given the hundreds oI
millions oI such products that are in American homes.
Our analysis Iocused only on cases in which we could examine CPSC or court records or conduct interviews, but
there are most likely many more. A CPSC database known as Injury and Potential Injury Incidents showed there
were 413 reports involving glass bakeware Irom 1998 through 2007, though that Iigure may include multiple reports
about a single incident.

This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

The CPSC also analyzed emergency room visits Ior that period and Iound 268 reports oI visits Ior glass bakeware
injuries in its small sample. Based on that, the CPSC estimated 11,882 injuries nationwide during those years. These
ER statistics include injuries Irom glassware breaking when dropped and Irom when it unexpectedly shattered. The
latter circumstance may be less common, but oI greater concern, according to Stephen Freiman, Ph.D., Iormer chieI
oI the ceramics division at the National Institute oI Standards and Technology, and now a consultant in Potomac,
"The general public accepts that glass and ceramic dishes may break iI dropped or impacted," he says, "but these
cookware pieces may explode Ior no apparent reason, giving no warning and oIIering the user no protection."
Consumers Union, the nonproIit publisher oI Consumer Reports, believes the number oI cases warrants a closer look
by the CPSC. For every incident reported to the agency, there are likely to be scores more that are not.
Carla Luckenbaugh oI Anniston, Ala., suIIered one oI those injuries. Her husband, Gary, told us that in June 2008
his wiIe took a Pyrex pan in which she'd baked cornbread out oI a 350-degree oven, set it on their glass stovetop to
cool, and it exploded into hundreds oI shards. One oI them cut a 2-inch gash on the top oI her Ioot, while others Ilew
as Iar as 10 Ieet. Gary Luckenbaugh contacted World Kitchen about the incident, but not the CPSC. And since his
wiIe's cut was sutured the next day at her doctor's oIIice rather than in a hospital, her injury would not be reIlected in
the CPSC's emergency room sample, which reIlects about 100 oI the nation's almost 5,000 hospital ERs.
"There really needs to be better warning inIormation about what can happen, because it's much more dangerous than
the pan just cracking," Luckenbaugh says. "But they put these saIety instructions in Iine print on the back oI the
cardboard packaging that most people throw away, saying things like you have to set it on top oI a dry cloth or
potholder to cool. How would anyone know that?"
What the Labels Say In Iact, that type oI saIety advice did not even appear on Pyrex's packaging as
recently as 2007. The directions at that time included this advice: "Do not add liquid to hot dish, place hot dish or
glass cover in sink, immerse in water or place on cold or wet surIaces." The saIety instructions have been expanded
to read: "Do not add liquid to hot glassware, place hot glassware on a wet or cool surIace, directly on countertop or
metal surIace or in sink.Allow hot glassware to cool on a cooling rack, potholder or dry cloth."
The packaging Ior a 9x13 Anchor Hocking Oven Basics dish we purchased in 2010 and tested warns not to use it in
ovens hotter than 450 degrees. But the packaging Ior an 8x8 Anchor Hocking Premium dish bought in 2009 gives no
maximum temperature. The company's website says not to use its bakeware at a temperature higher than 425
Blaming the Victims }im anu Shaion uosen of Colville, Wash., iepoiteu to the CPSC that in }une ŶŴŴź
Shaion was melting buttei foi a uesseit in a Pyiex uish that was about two yeais olu. Shoitly aftei she openeu
the oven uooi to see whethei the buttei hau melteu, she says, the uish exploueu. They sent samples of the
glass to Woilu Kitchen, which confiimeu it containeu a manufactuiing nonconfoimity known as a Őstone,Ő
causeu by a small poition of unmelteu glass oi othei mateiial. Woilu Kitchen acknowleuges that this
manufactuiing uefect incieases the likelihoou of bieakage fiom theimal shock. But in its comments to the
CPSC, the company nonetheless blameu the consumei, stating that the iepoiteu inciuent occuiieu Őwhen,
contiaiy to Pyiex safety anu usage instiuctions, the consumei placeu a pan in a non-pieheateu oven to melt
Jim Gosen says the oven was set at 300 degrees and was preheating. Pyrex package instructions do not explicitly
warn against melting butter in a conventional oven. Aikins at World Kitchen says the company cannot determine the
precise cause oI breakage. In an August 2003 letter to a consumer whose Pyrex dish reportedly exploded on a
cooling rack aIter being used in a 350-degree oven Ior 30 minutes, a World Kitchen representative stated that the
company's examination oI the dish revealed no manuIacturing Ilaws but showed a "bruise" resulting Irom an impact,
so the company was not responsible Ior the incident. The letter said that delayed breakage could occur aIter the user
bumped the dish against a Iaucet or cupboard or used a sharp utensil.

This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

It's worrisome iI such common kitchen occurrences could lead to delayed breakage. But Aikins says a troublesome
bruise will be visible as a chip, scratch, or crack.
In a 2003 CPSC case, Debby Rice oI Barneveld, Wis., reported that her leIt index Iinger was cut open aIter her
Pyrex dish shattered, requiring treatment in the emergency room and surgery. World Kitchen says the breakage was
caused by "a mechanical impact and then thermal downshock (indicating likely misuse oI the product)." A World
Kitchen attorney said the injury was unsubstantiated, but when we pointed out that the surgeon's report was
attached, the company acknowledged her "unIortunate injury."
As Rice puts it, "What they said is that the pan was bruised Irom being bumped and it makes it weaker. So it was our
Iault that the pan broke. I guess you have to use it like walking on eggshells."
The aggressive strategy in challenging consumers' complaints also extends to media coverage. Within a day aIter we
Iirst contacted Corning to begin reporting on this article, an attorney Ior World Kitchen contacted Consumer
Reports´ legal staII. The company also asked to review test results and any article beIore publication, which is
against Consumer Reports´ policy.
AIter being contacted by a Chicago TV station about the issue in 2008, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., asked the
CPSC to conduct an independent investigation into Pyrex bakeware's saIety. She soon received a letter Irom World
Kitchen's president, Joseph T. MalloI, noting that the company's headquarters was in her district and expressing
surprise that she was quoted in a report that "maligned the excellent saIety record oI Pyrex glass bakeware."
Schakowsky said in an e-mail to Consumer Reports that she was not satisIied with the CPSC's response in 2008 but
is pleased that under its new leadership, the agency is revisiting the concerns she raised, "including whether the
labeling on Pyrex and other bakeware is suIIicient to keep consumers saIe."

#educe the #isks
To minimize the chances oI glass bakeware shattering, read and save the saIety instructions on the product's
packaging. Here are some saIety rules to Iollow:
Always place hot glassware on a dry, cloth potholder or towel.
Never put glassware directly on a burner or under a broiler.
Always allow the oven to Iully preheat beIore placing the glassware in the oven.
Always cover the bottom oI the dish with liquid beIore cooking meat or vegetables.
Don't add liquid to hot glassware.
II you're using the dish in a microwave, do not use browning elements, and avoid overheating oil or
Do not take dishes directly Irom the Ireezer to the oven or vice versa.
Never place hot glassware on top oI a stove, on a metal trivet, on a damp towel, in the sink, on a cold
or wet surIace, or directly on a countertop.
Inspect your dishes Ior chips, cracks, and scratches. Discard dishes with such damage.
To avoid risks associated with glass dishes, consider using metal bakeware Ior conventional and
convection ovens.

This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

Sbattering Bakeware Affects Coworkers
1hree women, three bukewure lnclJentx
leAnn lercori, volerie BiJJle, onJ Corlo TboJen {left to riqbt).

When we interviewed people involved in the 163 shattering incidents that we
examined Ior our story, most oI whom had Iiled reports with the Consumer
Product SaIety Commission, several told us about Iamily, Iriends, or co-workers who had a similar but unreported
experience with glass bakeware. We Iound a cluster oI three cases that involved women who all happened to work
together at a department store near Sacramento, CaliI., and it illustrates the diIIerent ways an accident can occur.
Valerie Biddle oI Orangeville, CaliI., said she suIIered serious injuries in 2006 aIter she turned on the broiler Ior a
Iew minutes to Iinish cooking chicken she'd been baking at 350 degrees in a Pyrex dish. Putting glass bakeware
under a broiler goes against the saIety instructions Ior any brand, including the original version oI Pyrex. The
warning is molded onto the glass bakeware dishes. According to the CPSC report, the dish shattered shortly aIter
Biddle removed it Irom the oven, and sharp shards cut her Ieet, severing tendons in both oI them. Biddle said that
aIter being disabled Ior several months as she underwent surgery and physical therapy to regain the ability to walk,
she returned to her job as a retail manager at the store and discovered that just a month earlier, one oI her co-workers
also had a Irightening glass bakeware experience.
That co-worker, LeAnn Lercari, the store's loss-prevention manager, said she had just placed a Pyrex dish Iilled with
enchiladas into the microwave to warm them up during a party at her home when the dish suddenly shattered.
Because no one was hurt and she considered it a Iluke, she didn't report the incident. "I knew Valerie had been
injured but I didn't know it was because oI a Pyrex dish exploding until aIter it happened to me," Lercari said.
Another oI Biddle's co-workers, Carla Thaden, said that about a year later she was baking a tamale pie at 350
degrees in a Pyrex dish when she heard a boom in her kitchen as the dish shattered in the oven. GrateIul that neither
she nor her 2-year-old granddaughter had been hurt, Thaden promptly contacted World Kitchen and the CPSC.
"I deIinitely wanted to Iile reports so that it would be on record and hopeIully this won't keep happening to others,"
Thaden said. "When you consider that there are three oI us in just one workplace who've had this experience, I think
it's clear that this is more common than anyone realizes."
Because none oI the women saved shards oI their shattered bakeware Ior the Pyrex manuIacturer World Kitchen to
examine, the company said it could not "speculate about the product identity or cause oI the breakage" Ior any oI
these cases.
While the number oI incidents reported involves only a tiny Iraction oI the hundreds oI millions oI dishes in use,
each case may contain lessons. Consumer Product SaIety Commission statistics about glass bakeware unexpectedly
shattering give only a partial indication oI how oIten this occurs because consumers don't always Iile reports. That's
why we urge anyone who has this experience to report it to the CPSC (800-638-22772 or nfo¸ We also
invite readers to send their stories to us at TellCR¸
Next Steps to Take Consumers Union urges the CPSC to conduct a thorough study oI glass bakeware on
the market, with particular attention to the diIIerences between bakeware made oI soda lime glass and oI
borosilicate. ManuIacturers should imprint clear and prominent warnings on their bakeware, not just on the
packaging that gets tossed out upon Iirst use.
We also urge consumers who experience glass bakeware unexpectedly shattering to report the incident to the CPSC
at 800-638-2772 or nfo¸ We also invite readers to send their stories to us at TellCR¸

This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.

Frame by Frame: Our lab tests show glass bakeware under sudden stress
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This article appeared in January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine.


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