Glass bakeware that shatters

We put Pyrex and Anchor Hocking dishes to the test

Last reviewed: January 2011

When she celebrated Thanksgiving in 2007 at her daughter's home, Patricia Szczcenia of Lansing, Ill., followed family custom, cooking a ham to go along with the roasted turkey. She says she baked the ham at 350 degrees in a Pyrex glass baking dish. But what happened when she and her daughter Giselle opened the oven door to baste the ham, she says, was anything but customary.

"The baking dish just exploded as my daughter was about to touch it, sending pieces of glass and hot juices from the ham flying everywhere," says Szczcenia, 63. "We had splash burns on our arms and the tops of our legs, and my 3-year-old granddaughter stepped on a piece of glass before I could get her out of the kitchen. I can't begin to tell you how scary it was."

She filed a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and contacted the manufacturer. The company said it is possible that she had not followed the bakeware's instructions and that it could not confirm that the product was Pyrex because she had not sent the shards for the company to examine. Szczcenia says she has no doubt the dish that shattered was Pyrex because she'd just purchased it for her daughter a few weeks earlier, and as a loyal Pyrex customer for 30 years, she always looked for that label.

"I loved my old Pyrex, and I certainly know how to use it properly," she says, "but it seems like the only correct instructions for this new Pyrex would be not to use the dish near heat at all."

Pyrex and other brands of glass bakeware are a staple of many kitchens, with marketing that dates back decades, touting its versatile uses.

In recent years, news reports and Internet postings about glass bakeware unexpectedly shattering have some consumers worried about safety and confused about instructions. Packaging may prominently say freezer-safe and oven-safe. But consumers might not be aware of warnings which can appear on the back of a label in type this small with cautions about preheating the oven, cooling, use of liquids in the pan, and more.