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Exploding Churros Cost Newspaper $163,000

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on December 28, 2011 5:59 AM

Hot oil and sweet dough are ordinarily a good match. But when they form exploding churros? Not so much.

The Chilean Supreme Court has ordered newspaper La Tercera to pay 13 exploding churro victims a combined 85 million pesos. That's about $163,000 in the U.S.

The group had accused the paper of not properly testing its churro recipe before publishing it in 2004.

The 13 victims suffered oil burns on their arms, bodies and faces, according to the BBC. One woman was completely covered in the scorching liquid. She was awarded $48,000 while others received lesser amounts.

In affirming a lower court's ruling, the Chilean court concluded that the explosions were the result of poor instructions, reports the Associated Press. The recipe asked home cooks to heat the oil to 482°F (250°C).

Food is ordinarily fried at a temperature between 300°F and 400°F. Most oils will smoke and splatter violently if heated any higher.

If this had happened in the U.S., La Tercera similarly would have been found negligent. Publishers of recipes arguably have a duty to provide safe instructions. The outcome doesn't have to taste good, but the process should not invite avoidable injury.

An investigation by a magistrate judge showed that the paper did not test its recipe, reports the Associated Press. It thus failed to fulfill its legal duty.

Luckily, exploding churros aren't that common. Most cookbooks and newspaper-published recipes are heavily tested (for taste and safety). Still, something can slip through. So if it seems unsafe, do a little Internet search. You may be saving yourself a trip to the emergency room.

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