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NBC’s This Is Us fans all know that the series can be a real tear-jerker (I keep tissues at the ready). But this week’s episode had me and home cooks everywhere in tears for a unexpected reason: Our beloved slow cooker was to blame for a character’s end when it shorted out and caused a fire. How could this happen? Are slow cookers really that dangerous? Will I have to toss mine (but I had these great recipes planned!)?
Well, before we all get ahead of ourselves, let’s get to the bottom of the issue.
Are slow cookers safe?
In short: Yes, slow cookers are safe to use, even when unattended. These appliances are designed specifically to be used for extended, unattended, low heat cooking.
According to a statement from Crock-Pot, the leading manufacturer of slow cookers:
All Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs. For nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.
How can you be sure?
After a dramatic tale (albeit a fictional one) like the one on This Is Us, we can imagine you’d want to err on the side of caution. To make sure your slow cooker is safe, first check that you are using an updated model with a removable cooking crock (the kind that lifts away from the heating element). The vintage versions from the ’70s where you can’t remove the cooking container from the heat should be tossed, according to slow-cooking expert Stephanie O’Dea. As long as you have an updated model without any frayed wires or malfunctioning electrical components, you shouldn’t have any worries.
To put your mind at ease, you can check out this list of recalled models. If you have one of these, definitely replace it for a new, safe version.
What can I do to prevent any slow cooker issues?
No matter what, it’s crucial to follow some simple rules when slow cooking. Be sure that you’re appliance is properly plugged into an outlet and is not pressed against the wall (or any other surface). It’s also wise to set your slow cooker on a flat, heat proof surface, like a granite countertop or tile trivet, while in use. Also never overfill your slow cooker. You don’t want any cooking liquids running over and coming in contact with the heating element. Lastly, always keep the lid on your slow cooker. For more specific tips, reference your slow cooker’s manual.
Now with some peace of mind, you can confidently get back to your favorite all-day slow cooker recipes.