Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beware the hazards of this product!

On October 24, 2005 -- yes, that's over a year ago -- I spent four hours in an emergency room getting four stitches in my hand, a tetanus shot, and a prescription for Hydrocodone pain medication after slicing a third-of-an-inch deep, one-inch long gash in my hand opening a tin of 9 Lives cat food. Now, mind you, I'm not an altogether careless guy, yet this wasn’t the first time I cut my hand opening a can 9 Lives cat food. Once before I sliced my finger but the wound wasn’t as deep and I avoided the emergency room by means of a home-made bandage that I changed daily for a couple of weeks.

If you take the time to read the directions on the can, it says that these cans can be opened with a can opener as well as with the pop-open levers provided on top of the cans. But the can-opener almost never seems a live option when the pop-open lever is provided so conveniently with each can. The problem with the pop-open lever, however, is that, despite the caution warning, it’s extremely dangerous because the lids don’t come off easily. They're not made of light-weight aluminum like they are on some other tins. They’re comparatively hard to open manually using the pop-open lever. They take some force. The danger is that in expending this force, one’s hands can easily get caught, as mine have repeatedly, in the slicing momentum of the metal top finally prying free, with a jerk of the hand.

After my experience with the surgery last year, I concluded that these cans are hazards. I don’t think the oblique warning printed on the tops of these cans suffice to deter customers from the self-endangering behavior involved in prying loose the tops. I’ve repeatedly opened these cans without incident, mind you, and I’m a reasonably careful person who reads the fine print. But all it takes is one time to do serious injury. My last injury, the physician told me, came close to severing the tendon of my left index finger. As good as the food products are, I see a class action suit in this company's future, unless it changes these hazardous tin tops. My suggestion would be that they re-design the tin tops along the lines of other brands, which are far more easily removable, or that they omit the pop-open levers altogether, thus compelling their customers to use can openers. The former option would probably be more easily marketable.

The reason I'm posting this notice is as a public service announcement. After my surgery, I notified Del Monte Foods, the parent company of the product in question, of my concerns. Not once, however, did the Del Monte Foods concede the remote possibility of a design defect. Instead, they attempted to buy my satisfaction by offering to pay a percentage of my out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance. That, however, was not the focus of my concern; nor is it now.

Beware this product! Buy alternate brands, if possible. They are far safer. If you are wedded to 9 Lives, at least be extremely careful in opening the cans. -- Cheers.

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