A catalogue of safety failures has led to premium food processor manufacturer Thermomix Australia being fined more than $4.6m AUD (£2.5m).
Despite knowing as early as 7 July 2014 that the TM31 food processor could cause burns from hot food or liquid escaping the bowl, Thermomix continued to market and sell the device for almost two months.
It didn’t notify customers of the potential danger until 23 September 2014.
Sarah Court, commissioner at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), said: ‘By failing to act swiftly and alert consumers about the potential safety hazard with the TM31 appliance, Thermomix misled a number of consumers and placed their safety at risk.’
Thermomix owners and media misled over recall
Thermomix was also found to have misled some customers over their rights to a refund or replacement for their dangerous device. In some instances, owners of the TM31 were told they were not entitled to a replacement or a refund.
One consumer was even informed that they would only receive a refund if they agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from discussing their issues with the TM31.
The brand was also found to have made misleading statements to the media over the recall in 2016.
If you’ve got a faulty product in your home, read our guide explaining your rights if there’s a safety warning or a product recall.
Faulty sealing ring on Thermomix food processors
The initial investigation, by Australian consumer organisation Choice, found the TM31 to have a faulty sealing ring. After receiving reports from 83 TM31 owners, 45 of whom were scalded by the device, it notified the ACCC, who later brought the case to court.
The recall brought about the replacement of the original grey lid sealing ring on the TM31 with a new green lid sealing ring for all affected machines, and it included revised safe operating instructions for all Thermomix users, concerning blending hot liquids.
Thermomix and Vorwerk advise that TM31 appliances should only be operated with a green sealing ring, and customers should replace their sealing rings every two years.
How did Thermomix Australia respond?
In a statement on its website, Thermomix apologised to people affected by the faulty device and by its actions, and it also took out a full page newspaper advert to apologise.
The brand is offering a free TM5 food processor (the newer model which replaces the TM31) to the 9,443 people who purchased a TM31 between 7 July 2014 and 23 September 2014.
The TM5 is available in the UK and you can see what we thought of it in our Thermomix TM5 first look review.
Thermomix in the UK
The same sealing ring issue affected TM31 units sold in the UK. According to the company’s website, it first noticed the problem in 2012 and notified owners of the potential danger while recommending they change the sealing ring on their device.
In 2014 it announced that devices manufactured after May 2014 could also be affected by the issue, extended the warranty of the device by one year and sent replacement sealing rings to anyone with an affected TM31.
If you have a TM31 at home with a service number between 24231XX and 143231XX, then you should contact Thermomix for a replacement sealing ring to ensure your food processor can be used safely.
Which? demands action on dangerous products
Our campaign to demand action on dangerous products has nearly 100,000 signatures. Join us in our call to urgently reform the UK’s product safety regime and take a stand against unsafe products.
And if you’re in the market for a new food processor, make sure to read our food processor reviews to get our independent verdict on the best and worst models.