Use Extreme Caution with Turkey Fryers this Thanksgiving - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

11/27/02 - Tyler

Use Extreme Caution with Turkey Fryers this Thanksgiving

   Most of you will sit down to a table tomorrow with dressing, cranberry sauce, pies, and of course the main event--- the turkey. Most people still cook their turkeys in the oven. But deep-fried turkey has become very popular recently, thanks to celebrity chefs like Martha Stewart. However, there's growing concern that backyard chefs are sacrificing safety for good taste. "The units can be overfilled (with oil) and when that happens and the turkey is added, the oil spills out and causes the unit to catch on fire," says John Drengenbers of Underwriters Laboratories.

   Underwriters Laboratories is the non-profit safety group behind the "UL" symbol you've seen for years on a variety of household products. UL tested several fryers, and withheld its seal of approval in every case.

   Here's another reason why. "None of the deep fat turkey fryers we tested had an auto thermostat control," says Drengenbers. "The only way to regulate the temperature of the oil is to watch the thermometer and manually turn the control." If the five gallons of oil gets too hot it can catch fire. Another concern with deep fat turkey fryers is their lack of stability," says Drengenbers. With a light touch he was able to tip the fryer over spilling water everywhere. "In our laboratory we used water, can you imagine if we'd used hot oil." And it only gets worse. The metal handles on the fryer and its lid get extremely hot. Try to move or open it with bare hands and you're frying more than turkey. "We hope everyone will think twice before using a deep fat turkey fryer. But if they do, always use extreme caution," Drengenbers says.

   Here are more suggestions for safer use.

   -Do not overfill. Before cooking, find the proper fill amount by immersing the turkey in water so it just covers the top of the bird and then mark the water-line when the turkey is removed. Then make sure to dry the interior of the fryer before adding oil.

   -Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. Oil and water don't mix. And the water in the bird, combined with the hot oil can cause the pot to boil over.

   -Never leave the fryer unattended. And keep children and pets away, even after use.

-And in the event of a fire, never use water. If the fire is small, use an all purpose fire extinguisher. And use good judgement. If the fire starts growing, don't wait too long to call 911.

   Joe Terrell, reporting.

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