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Class action suit against junk food companies?


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#31 Ron Johnson

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 05:55 AM

Home coffee is between 135 and 140 depending on the type of machine.  Liquids at 140 degrees will cause pain but not serious burns to the skin.  Any liquid above 180 degrees will cause third degree burns if in contact with the skin for longer than 2 seconds.  McDonalds served their coffee between 180 and 190 degrees.  No other fast food chain serves coffee at this high temperature.  McDonalds also continued to serve their coffee at this temp depsite knowledge of more than 700 people who had suffered serious burns as a result of coffee spilled on them.
On another note, last night I recalled once when I was a waiter spilling an entire cup of coffee on another waiter as I was turning with the cup in my hand.  She said it hurt, but she never had any blisters or scarring.  That was coffee from one of those commercial machines I believe made by Bunn or something like that.  So it must not have been over 180.

#32 Blue Heron

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 08:24 AM

I've had the misfortune of witnessing a couple of coffee accidents.  One was a waitress (my roommate) who broke a pot of coffee, burning herself.  The other was at a party where a toddler got too close to the buffet table and pulled a party size coffee urn over, splashing himself with hot coffee.  Fortunately, in both cases, the burns were not serious.  They caused reddening of the skin and pain, but that was about all.  The waitress was able to work the rest of her shift, and the baby, although in pain didn't require hospitalization fortunately.  I think the temp of the coffee can make a big difference on how severe the burns can be.

We just got a carafe coffee maker as a free gift from Gevalia.  It makes coffee a lot hotter than our last model, which was a Krupps or Braun.  The cup of coffee I just served myself registered 160 with my instant thermometer, but within about 1 minute was at 150 (still very hot).


#33 Bux

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 10:03 AM

I've not measured the temperature of my coffee as it comes from the machine, but I know the steam produced to foam the milk is in excess of 210 degrees. Shouldn't my antihistamine medicine come with a warning not to operate this machine?

Tommy, I want to let you know your dealer is suing you for defamation of charcater.


#34 Fat Guy

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 10:15 AM

Several expert sources I've queried say it's simply not possible to extract coffee effectively at 140 or 150 degrees F, so unless these home machines have cooling devices of which I'm not aware, coffee straight from one of them must be a lot hotter.

I've asked my friend who works at a Starbucks to take some measurements. She has so far ascertained that the milk for a Starbucks espresso-based drink is heated to 160 degrees F unless a customer requests extra hot (and apparently many do) in which case it is heated to 180 degrees F. The espresso in question, which can be served straight or mixed with the hot milk in various ratios, is made with 194 degrees F water and emerges from the machine at around 185 degrees F, at which point it is immediately presented to the customer or combined with the relevant milk (therefore reaching a temperature somewhere in between) and immediately presented to the customer. She's going to double check those latter figures today. Starbucks also takes the absurd step of placing a warning on its coffee cups, something that should not be necessary in a sane world.

Steve Klc, can you speak authoritatively here?


#35 Stone

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 11:21 AM

Steve, as Kurt Vonnegut asked, what kind of society do we live in when boxes of toothpicks come with instructions?

Warnings are not meant for the reasonable and sane in our society.


#36 NewYorkTexan

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 12:20 PM

Today I was emailed a list of "actual" warning labels from consumer products.   I have not verified if they actually appear on the products listed.


On a Sear's hairdryer:  ...Do not use while sleeping.

On a bag of Fritos:  ...You could be a winner! No purchase necessary.  Details inside.  (the shoplifter special?)

On a bar of Dial soap:  "Directions: Use like regular soap."

On some Swanson frozen dinners:  "Serving suggestion:
Defrost."
(but, it's "just" a suggestion.)

On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom):  "Do not turn upside  down."  (well...duh, a bit late, huh!)

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding:  "Product will be hot
after heating."  

On packaging for a Rowenta iron:  "Do not iron clothes on body."  

On Boot's Children Cough Medicine:  "Do not drive a car or operate  machinery  after taking this medication."
(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction
accidents if we  could  just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those forklifts.)

On Nytol Sleep Aid: "Warning: May cause drowsiness."
(and...I'm taking this because???....)

On most brands of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only."  (as opposed to...what?)

On a Japanese food processor:  "Not to be used for the other use." > (now, somebody out there, help me on this.  I'm a bit curious.)

On Sainsbury's peanuts:  "Warning: contains nuts."


On an American Airlines packet of nuts:  "Instructions: Open packet, eat  nuts."  

On a child's superman costume:  "Wearing of this garment does not enable  you  to fly."  (I don't blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.)

On a Swedish chainsaw:  "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or  genitals."  (Oh my ... was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)


#37 Stone

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 03:52 PM

Quote: from NewYorkTexan on 11:20 am on Jan. 30, 2002


On most brands of Christmas lights: "For indoor or outdoor use only."  (as opposed to...what?)

O.k., I'm way off topic now, and I apologize -- but one college football coach once said, "we can't win at home, and we can't win on the road, and I can't think of anywhere else to play."

Sorry.

(Edited by Dstone001 at 3:11 pm on Jan. 30, 2002)


#38 Peter B Wolf

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 06:49 PM

New York Texan: got one for your collection.
Tag on pillows: "Under penalty of the law, do not remove this label except by consumer"
Can I remove this before I consume the pillow, and if not, what is the penalty. If I consume it, does it need salt?
All fun aside, can we get back to the original post's comments?

#39 NewYorkTexan

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 07:49 PM

While the warning labels were  amusing, they actually were relevant to the original topic.  They demonstrate the extremes that companies feel obligated to go to as protection against frivolous lawsuits.  The warning labels often prove to be a weak defense, but the lawyers insist they appear.  Do warning labels ever protect consumers against their own stupidity?

On a different but related topic, One of the results of McDonalds losing the lawsuit is they serve their coffee at a lower temperature.  I am sure there is a lawyer that has or will look to sue McDonalds based on the diminished enjoyment of their beverage which is now served below the optimal temperature.  


#40 Katherine

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 08:51 PM

One reason why these companies serve coffee at such a high temperature is that a lot of Americans put large amounts of lowfat or skim milk in it, and still expect the coffee to be hot afterwards.

One woman I knew put about 1/3 cold milk in her cup, and thought the coffee should be held at about boiling, so it would be piping hot for her. I suggested she preheat her milk, and she acted like I was speaking a foreign language.

People like that complain to management that the coffee's not hot enough, and the temp gets turned up. Who needs flavor in the coffee, anyway? When you put skim milk in it, it looks and tastes like dishwater no matter what it started as.


#41 tommy

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 09:28 PM

Quote: from Katherine on 10:51 pm on Jan. 30, 2002
When you put skim milk in it, it looks and tastes like dishwater no matter what it started as.

i disagree.  that's just not true, apparently, or people wouldn't put skim milik in their coffee.  but then again, i don't have very strong feelings about coffee either way, other than that my skim milked filled coffee neither tastes nor looks like dishwater.  

#42 Bux

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Posted 30 January 2002 - 11:25 PM

While the warning labels were  amusing, they actually were relevant to the original topic.  They demonstrate the extremes that companies feel obligated to go to as protection against frivolous lawsuits.  The warning labels often prove to be a weak defense, but the lawyers insist they appear.  Do warning labels ever protect consumers against their own stupidity?

Maybe too far offtopic, but I'm reminded of a toy I bought for my daughter when she was a toddler. Does anyone remember Design Research, a store I would otherwise have fond memories of, on 57th Street. I bought this brightly painted wooden pull toy there. Within a few hours, my daughter managed to pull off a wheel that was attached to the body of the toy with a sharp spiked nail. Luckily I caught her quickly with what had become a lethal weapon in her hand. Rather indignantly I brought the toy back to the shop. The young woman I complained to was eqaully indignant and a lot icier when she told me that their regular clients were more sophisticated and knew how to use this object. I didn't ask if they were sophisticated enough to know not to give toys to babies, or if this pull toy was meant for their adult clientele.

#43 Katherine

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Posted 31 January 2002 - 03:39 PM

Put another way: To a person who likes their coffee with cream, skim milk will foul a cup of coffee without significantly whitening it.

#44 Stone

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Posted 01 February 2002 - 03:01 PM

Quote: from tommy on 8:28 pm on Jan. 30, 2002

Quote: from Katherine on 10:51 pm on Jan. 30, 2002
When you put skim milk in it, it looks and tastes like dishwater no matter what it started as.

i disagree.  that's just not true, apparently, or people wouldn't put skim milik in their coffee.  but then again, i don't have very strong feelings about coffee either way, other than that my skim milked filled coffee neither tastes nor looks like dishwater.  

Why assume people who put skim milk in their coffee like the taste?  I think the odds are better that they're sacrificing taste for calories.  A silly choice to be sure.