Consumers who want to deep-fry a 20-pound turkey without the hassle of a propane tank, the dangers of an open flame and the unpredictability of outdoor elements have an alternative in the Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer XL ($170).
They just don’t have the blessing of Underwriters Laboratories, which certifies the safety of a wide array of consumer products.
John Drengenberg, who is UL’s consumer-safety director, says UL has never certified a turkey fryer. The combination of an open flame and gallons of hot oil is too dangerous, he says. Even when the flame is removed, such as with the electric fryer, gallons of hot oil that are inside remain unnerving.
But Drengenberg says UL certifies other electric fryers for home use. When we asked him why the turkey fryer was different, he was evasive, saying he couldn’t make a decision about a product he hadn’t seen.
“There’s no firm policy against certifying turkey fryers,” he says. “We just haven’t seen anything that would meet our requirements.”
John McLemore, who is CEO of Masterbuilt, which makes the Butterball fryer, says that in 8 years since Masterbuilt introduced its first electric turkey fryer, not one has overheated. They’re built to UL safety standards, he says, but they’re certified by Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
“UL won’t certify anything to do with turkey frying,” McLemore says. “That’s why we don’t go there. We go with CSA, we abide by every single standard, and CSA does everything the same [as UL] in its testing labs.”
CSA’s David Walker says he tested the turkey fryer to a point where it would be on for longer than necessary, and the temperature controls all worked sufficiently. He says the product is safe.
McLemore says the device automatically shuts down if either of two thermostats exceeds 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our take: Although UL is considered to be the gold standard for safety evaluation, in this case, we believe that a lack of UL certification isn’t a red flag.
– P. Snyder