What does it take to be an ideal electric cooking appliance for domestic use? Whether you are a culinary enthusiast or novice, one indisputable concensus must, first and foremost, be safe to its users - and their families.
The Consumer Council has put to test a mix of 10 cooking devices, of both the innovative and the conventional, available to consumers in the marketplace these days.
The test samples were made up of 3 halogen ovens and 3 air fryers, most with claims of being, among other features, an energy-efficient and healthy alternative to traditional cooking appliance, along with 4 portable electric convection ovens.
A common safety issue with these portable electric cooking appliances concerns: the over-temperature of non-working surface of the devices. In other words, the temperature rise of the surfaces of these cookers when in use should not be too high as to cause potential injury upon accidental touching - especially on tender skin.
The test item adopted the European Standard (EN) which has been considerably tightened over the years to protect users from burn injury or nasty pain, especially young children under 8 years old who are warned against using these appliances without the presence of adults. The warning should also be included prominently in the users' instruction manual.
The results showed that the majority of the samples did not live up to the EN requirements. The metal or glass surface of 2 halogen oven samples and the 4 convection oven samples were found to reach a high temperature in excess of the EN safety limit of 115℃ and 145℃ respectively.
The prescribed temperature limits are applicable only on surfaces that carry a Hot Surface warning symbol. Without such a symbol the temperature limits will have to be adjusted downwards to provide an extra margin of protection to the unwary.
The problem of over-temperature based on the EN requirements was detected also in 7 of the 10 samples in respect of the components (e.g. the fan motor and lamp holder) and the supporting surface under the appliance (e.g. the kitchen counter top).
Another safety concern was related to protection against electric shock. One halogen model was found to pose a higher risk of electric shock to users if accidentally in access of the heating element and the supporting metal plate as the sample was neither equipped with reliable earthing connection nor totally disconnected from the power supply.
Other deficiencies detected included: 4 samples with plastic materials of insufficient resistance to heat and/or fire while 3 others with internal wirings that could come in contact with a nearby sharp edge posing risk of damage to the wiring insulation.
In addition, the samples were evaluated for their performance in terms of volume, input power, temperature and energy efficacy. On the whole, the results proved satisfactory with no significant deficiencies and variations among the samples in overall performance.
The test report also noted the public concerns on the food safety of using halogen ovens and air fryers. The cooking process of these devices is classified as dry-heat cooking using hot air or fat to heat the food thus generating a higher temperature as compared with moist-heat cooking which uses hot water and steam as the medium of cooking.
Dry-heat cooking at high temperature such as frying, baking, grilling and barbequing, may produce harmful contaminants that can increase with the cooking duration and temperature.
While ensuring the food is thoroughly cooked, consumers are advised to refrain from over-heating their food; avoid indulgence in barbecued meats and eating charred foods to reduce exposure to heat-generated contaminants.
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