Equipment
What You Need to Know About the Cuisinart Food Processor Blade Recall
When we noticed cracked blades in the test kitchen, we immediately took action.
12-15-2016
America's Test Kitchen

Cooks at America’s Test Kitchen rely on food processors for a wide range of recipes, from pie dough to salsa verde. We have strong opinions about the machines, and frequently test new models to make sure that we’re working with the best equipment on the market, and to offer the best, most current recommendations to our readers.

In late 2015, executive editor of America's Test Kitchen's tastings and testings team Lisa McManus began work on a comprehensive review of food processors. It was the kind of deep-dive equipment test that many America’s Test Kitchen readers and viewers rely on, particularly for big-ticket items.

Equipment Review

Which Machine Is Best For Chopping, Slicing, and Shredding? Food Processors

We demand a food processor that can handle lots of chopping, slicing, and shredding while delivering professional quality results. We bought eight full-size food processors, priced from $59.99 to $299.99, with capacities of 11 to 14 cups, and put them to the test. 

 

Against a lineup of models from several different manufacturers, McManus was not surprised to see a Cuisinart model perform well. After all, Cuisinart has been the kitchen’s favorite food processor since 2012, and the one test cooks use every day in the kitchen.

McManus (left) takes notes as Cook's Illustrated test cook Annie Petito processes vegetables with the Cuisinart.

"When we choose a winning piece of equipment after our extensive testing process, we buy many copies of it and stock it in the test kitchen for everyone here to use every day," McManus said. "That lets us continue to monitor equipment with an eye to longevity and wear-and-tear. If we run into problems over time, that signals us to revisit our reviews, do more testing, adjust our rankings if necessary, and alert our readers."

Concurrent to McManus’s testing of new food processors, including the former winner from Cuisinart, another test cook noticed a troubling flaw in the metal blades of the earlier Cuisinart models. Careful inspection revealed hairline cracks and missing bits of metal. (See images below.) 

McManus was, understandably, concerned. Did these cracks suggest an endemic design problem? Or had heavy test kitchen use put undue pressure on the processor blades, causing them to crack?

McManus, working with the test kitchen director, immediately pulled all the processor blades from the kitchen for inspection. Of 20 blades, 19 showed signs of weakness.

McManus contacted Cuisinart, sending photos of the problem blades and returning a few of the samples for inspection. Cuisinart responded quickly, assuring us that a new blade had already been designed and that all new models would ship with redesigned, non-riveted blades. They promised to dig deeper to determine whether the cracks indicated a broader design problem. McManus continued with her testing, using one of the new blades, and after all the blades in the test kitchen were replaced, cooks got back to work.

After her battery of tests, McManus still chose the Cuisinart Custom 14 model as the winner, this time with redesigned blades, giving it a “highly recommended” rating in the January 2016 edition of Cook’s Illustrated.

But her recommendation came with a stark note of caution to readers: Inspect any previously purchased processor blades, and replace those that showed any signs of wear. (This is good advice for any piece of kitchen equipment.)

Watch our video (published December 2015) below; the blade crack inspection comes in at 5:35.

Earlier this week, Conair Corporation (Cuisinart’s parent company), in concert with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, issued a voluntary recall of the same riveted blade McManus found problems with. As part of the recall, Cuisinart will replace the blade free of charge, and the new blades will fit old machines.

We strongly recommend home cooks with any Cuisinart food processor purchased between July 1996 and December 2015 (all models) follow this directive. For a free replacement blade visit https://recall.cuisinart.com, or call 1 (877) 339-2534.

Safety First

Chop, Slice, and Shred Our Winning Food Processor

Our winning food processor was and remains the Cuisinart Custom 14 Food Processor, which now comes with a redesigned blade, encased in plastic with no rivets. It works beautifully, and test kitchen cooks love the powerful motor, responsive pulsing action, and simple design. Read our full review, and enduring endorsement, here.

 

Comments