Thermomix fined $4.6m after users left with severe burns

Perth Thermomix burns mum Danika Jones tells her story

Danika Jones speaks with Today Tonight about how her Thermomix's lid allegedly flew open leading to burns to her upper body.

The Australian distributor of dangerous cooking device Thermomix has been fined $4.6 million after at least nine users were left with severe burns in what has been described as a serious breach of Australian consumer law.

Federal Court judge Bernard Murphy slapped the fine on Thermomix in Australia -- the local distributor of Thermomix maker Vorwerk's faulty devices -- after it admitted it had not informed the government that its products had burnt or scalded some customers.

In handing down the penalty, Justice Murphy said Thermomix had information its products were potentially dangerous but did not tell consumers.

Thermomix: A dream kitchen device for many, it has turned into a nightmare for some users.
Thermomix: A dream kitchen device for many, it has turned into a nightmare for some users. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

“This is a serious contravention of the act. A large number of consumers were exposed to the risk of serious burns,” Justice Murphy said

Justice Murphy said senior management at Thermomix was aware of the problem but did not act.

“They did not cover themselves in glory … they made the deliberate decision not to inform the consumers,” he added.

The findings were made after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took action against the cooking device giant.

The case focused on the nine people who were severely injured by the product, but Justice Murphy said scores more customers received injuries while using their Thermomixes.

Thermomix, a fad cooking device that costs more than $2000 and promises to make cooking a quick and easy process, sold over 9000 products between July and September 2014 despite the group being aware its product could cause serious injury.

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A problem with the lid on its mixing bowl led to more than 70 Australians suffering severe to minor injuries after using the machine.

A company is required under Australian consumer laws to notify the government within 48 hours if it has information its product could kill or injure people. In some instances, Thermomix took years to notify the relevant minister of its issues.

Thermomix was also found to have misled and deceived customers by issuing a press release in March 2014 stating its product was safe and there was no recall.

A Perth mother suffered second-degree burns to her chest, arms and stomach after her Thermomix unexpectedly burst open ...
A Perth mother suffered second-degree burns to her chest, arms and stomach after her Thermomix unexpectedly burst open while she was preparing dinner. Photo: supplied

Those two statements were false, Justice Murphy said, adding the wide distribution of the press release in media stories compounded Thermomix’s breaches of consumer law - as did its repeated representations to customers that they could not receive a refund without first signing a gag order. The company has agreed to the findings and penalties.

Perth mother Danika Jones was one of Thermomix's customers who was burnt by the cooking device.

Ms Jones was rushed to hospital to receive treatment for the second-degree burns to her chest, arms and stomach after her Thermomix exploded.

Ms Jones was using a Thermomix TM31 to cook pasta sauce in January 2016 when she said the lid flew off and splattered hot liquid on her upper body.

The product was later recalled.

Thermomix in Australia managing director Grace Mazur said it was clear the company could have  better managed the issues at the centre of the case.

"As a fast growing local company, aspects of what happened then were not good enough," Mrs Mazur said.

“We regret this very much, are sorry, and apologise to those who were affected,” Mrs Mazur said.

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