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Well, after the "This product may contain nuts" on the airline complimentary nut packets I thought that the daftness inherent in having to protect a business from law-suit chasing consumers could not get much worse. That was - until my wife arrived home this afternoon with a gift for me. She had thoughtfully purchased for me the DVD of Peter Jackson's King Kong that I hadn't gotten around to getting for myself. I carefully examined the special-edition box to see what extras were added and there it was...in bright red letters half an inch high -

"Caution! Metal Label. NOT Microwaveable"

Now, I know that technology improves at an exponential rate but I am fairly sure that my DVD player and my cooking equipment are not only radically different in design and appearance, but also in location within my house. All the same, I felt safer knowing that, if I wanted to try medium-rare ape, local shop had already anticipated my stupidity. :fool:

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And to think I thought it was bad when peanut packets say, "May contain traces of nuts" on them! When I saw that i thought, "I do not think that is necessary. Surely any moron can figure out that there are nuts in peanut packets. Besides, it better have nuts in it and more than just traces." But that makes that look sane. What moron would put a DVD in the microwave? I think that like the peanut packet warning that warning is not necessary.

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Think about it.... apparently for that disclaimer to exist, there must be correlating legislation, which means... (shudder) someone in America used their latest movie rental as a plate for that night's mac and cheese.

(closes eyes)

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home...."

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Peanuts aren't actually nuts. It's possible to have a nut allergy without having a peanut allergy, and vice versa. Manufacturers are required to warn of "relevant" risks. Part of the relevancy calculus is an obviousness test - manufacturers do not have to warn of obvious risks. It is obvious that a packet labeled "peanuts" contains peanuts, but it may not be obvious that a packet labeled "peanuts" may contain traces of tree nuts.

apparently for that disclaimer to exist, there must be correlating legislation
No legislation involved. Products liability is a common law tort. There is legislation requiring manufacturers of food products to list ingredients and "Nutrition Facts." At least, in the U.S. I don't know how products liability works in Europe. There might be some jurisdiction in Region 2 that does things substantially differently, leading to this odd DVD warning label.

-Q

EDIT: For clarification, Justice Traynor 'invented' products liability in California in 1944, incorporating it into the common law of California several years later, from whence it spread to the rest of the US. It wasn't part of the 'historical' common law adopted from Britain after the Revolution.

Edited by Qwertz
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When I was in college, a lot of the guys in the dorm would take blank CDs (or lousy ones such as Brittany Spears), put them in the microwave to give them a cracked pattern, and then tape them over the keyhole on their door. So I am familiar with the practice of microwaving CDs for decorative purposes. Having never done it myself (I valued my microwave too much), I cannot relate to the mental state that leads one to choose to do such a strange thing, but nevertheless, it was fairly common in my dorm.

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While being microwaved CDs do a nice light show of electric arcs.

They can hurt the microwave, though. Metal also reflects microwaves, some of these get redirected back to the magnetron and may ruin it with repeated exposure. It's best not to put any metal in a microwave aside from that it was designed with (you'll notice the sides are metal, and some older models used a metal turntable).

The stupidest warning labels, IMO, are those on hot beverages warning you they are hot.

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The stupidest warning labels, IMO, are those on hot beverages warning you they are hot.

Those cases are losers. Or at least, most of them are. Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants was the exception. For such a well-known case (mostly because of its horribly scarred plaintiff and massive jury award), it has totally failed to set any precedent. It's been heavily discussed in law review articles, though, and the case was highly publicized. So McDonald's and others, though they almost never lose in hot coffee suits, take the ultracautious route and plaster their cups with multilingual admonitions of extreme incalescence, mostly in order to avoid bad press.

-Q

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I'm gonna do the unpopular thing and stick up for the DVD label. It is well-known among college students that putting a CD or DVD in a microwave will cause a miniature fireworks display. It doesn't actually hurt anything...just causes sparks to fly inside the microwave. But I wouldn't doubt that someone, somewhere in this country, had something go awry when they tried it. That's probably the reason for the label.

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  • 1 month later...
Well, after the "This product may contain nuts" on the airline complimentary nut packets I thought that the daftness inherent in having to protect a business from law-suit chasing consumers could not get much worse.

The peanut warning is a matter of life or death. Persons highly allergic to peanuts may die from digesting or even inhaling particles from peanuts. It is not a joking matter. Extreme anaphylactic reactions can kill or severely injure.

Bob Kolker

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The peanut warning is a matter of life or death. Persons highly allergic to peanuts may die from digesting or even inhaling particles from peanuts. It is not a joking matter. Extreme anaphylactic reactions can kill or severely injure.

Surely the point however is that the nut warning is ridiculous when applied to a packet of nuts, as what else is a packet of nuts supposed to contain?

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Surely the point however is that the nut warning is ridiculous when applied to a packet of nuts, as what else is a packet of nuts supposed to contain?

Not all nuts are equal. There is a particularly toxic reaction to -peanuts- which strictly speaking are not nuts. They are beans, members of the same family as green beans. In the case of mixed nuts (usually used as party appetizers), a warning that peanuts are present in the mix is required. It is a matter of life and death. A peanut (so-called) alergic person can eat cashews, pecans, filberts, almonds, Brazil nuts.

Bob Kolker

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  • 1 year later...
I'm gonna do the unpopular thing and stick up for the DVD label. It is well-known among college students that putting a CD or DVD in a microwave will cause a miniature fireworks display. It doesn't actually hurt anything...just causes sparks to fly inside the microwave. But I wouldn't doubt that someone, somewhere in this country, had something go awry when they tried it. That's probably the reason for the label.

People will do whatever they want to do. As long as it does not harm me, I have no problem with what they do in the privacy of their home (or dorm). But only as long as they take full responsibility for those actions.

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Those cases are losers. Or at least, most of them are. Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants was the exception. For such a well-known case (mostly because of its horribly scarred plaintiff and massive jury award), it has totally failed to set any precedent. It's been heavily discussed in law review articles, though, and the case was highly publicized. So McDonald's and others, though they almost never lose in hot coffee suits, take the ultracautious route and plaster their cups with multilingual admonitions of extreme incalescence, mostly in order to avoid bad press.

-Q

I have noticed that when I go to a sit-down restaurant and order coffee or hot tea, it is not served so hot as to be dangerous if I actually tried to drink it. Yet that was the case for many fast-food outlets. It may still be the case, I now know better than to order a hot beverage from a fast food outlet (unless its a Dunkin Donuts!, A dunked donut cannot be dangerously hot).

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A few observations:

1) Nut and peanut allergies tend to be quite severe, often triggered by minute amounts of allergens. Therefore labeling products that contain nuts, like candy bars, is quite reasonable. Also certain production lines can handle more than one product. Sometimes product A will leave some traces beahind in the machinery which will contaminate product B, sometimes these traces are of nuts. Therefore a product that contains no nuts as an ingredient may still contain traces of nuts. These are very small amount the average person won't ever notice, but which can trigger a response from those allergic to nuts (anything from a rash to full anaphylactic shock), ergo the warning labels.

2) Restaurant coffee is not as hot as fast-food coffee, true, but I wouldn't put a container of restaurant coffe between my legs because I could get burned. The McDonald's lawsuit was irrational. The error existed between the plaitiffs ears. BTW a doughnut is a very bad heat conductor, so even if it were as hot as the coffee it wouldn't burn you.

3) I've microwaved CDs (to destroy them). Overall it's harmless and the light show is worth seeing (once), but you do risk dammaging the oven's magnetron and ruining it. You also risk a fire, since the electric arcs are very hot and could, conceivably, set the CD's plastic coating alight. If you have a frequent need to destroy CDs and DVDs, there are office shredders that can handle them, or just break them in half with your hands (to avoid splinters wrap the disk in a rag first).

4) Every product, substance, tool, etc made has a purpose it was made for. The manufacturers test for such use and often for no other. Therefore when using something for a purpose it was not intended, the risk is entirely yours. A micowave is meant to heat food and beverages, not to destroy CDs or light up fluorescents. You put anything that's not food and drink in one, that's your lookout, not the manufacturer's.

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