Groupe SEB has responded to mounting reports that its Tefal ActiFry is liable to emit smoke and even flames by insisting that the product is safe.
The company has told HousewaresLive.net that should a problem occur with the electric fryer the power cuts off immediately and the product shuts down.
The fact that the ActiFry's fan can fail, causing overheating, was brought to national attention in November 2008 by the BBC's Watchdog television programme. Consumers told how their own ActiFrys had produced sparks, smoke and fire.
HousewaresLive.net reported the story - click here to read it
- and over 18 months later the website continues to receive comments from consumers relating their own experiences, with some demanding that the product be recalled.
However, responding to a request from HousewaresLive.net to clarify its position regarding the ActiFry, Groupe SEB has released a statement stressing that the product is safe and cannot catch fire.
The statement reads: "Tefal is a responsible company that takes customer safety and satisfaction very seriously.
"All of Tefal's products are designed to be 100% safe with proper use and have to undergo rigorous safety tests and comply with European safety standards before production.
"The Tefal ActiFry is a very safe innovation - it has undergone over 500 hours of safety tests and had to pass an independent laboratory test to gain the European Safety Standards BS EN 60335-1 and BS EN 60335-2-9. The ActiFry has been designed to 'fail safe'. This means that in the event of a product failure, it will shut down safely with all power cut immediately."
The statement goes on to say that of the 150,000 ActiFrys sold in the UK the vast majority of products have had no problems whatsoever and that customer satisfaction is very high.
"Since the launch of the ActiFry in 2007 we are aware of only 1.26% that has suffered from a faulty fan motor overheating," it says. "Most of these customers have reported their products producing smoke or sparks inside the unit.
"We accept that it may be possible for a short-lived flame to appear inside the unit should any oil residue be on the heating element casing. We reiterate that even if this did occur the product is still safe. The product will not catch fire as it is made from 20% fibreglass reinforced polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) which is flame retardant."
The statement concludes: "To reiterate, over 98% of customers have not reported any problems at all and Tefal has been in consultation with Trading Standards that looks after the interests of consumer safety and it has stated that it has no cause for concern."