Eggo Criminally Charged, Fined After Bungled Gas Leak

About 3,400 pounds of toxic gas escaped into the plant and surrounding neighborhood after a bad fix.

The Eggo brand is undoubtedly most famous for the cute, viral 1990s catchphrase that recurred in its television commercials where siblings and parents alike urged one another to ‘l’eggo my eggo.’

But more recently, the Kellogg-owned Eggo Company has been dealing with the negative fallout from an incident that occurred at a San Jose plant in early 2021 – and there’s nothing cute about it.

In January of last year, a subcontractor on site at the San Jose plant accidentally struck and damaged a pipe while using a scissor lift. The pipe began to leak anhydrous ammonia but plant management on site reportedly quickly addressed the problem.

Believing they’d stopped the leak, the managers allegedly refrained from calling 911. Meanwhile, the fix turned out to be inadequate. According to a recent report, a toxic amount of gas flowed through the pipe’s abrasion. Between the time of the incident and when 911 was called and it was ultimately resolved, a reported 3,400 pounds of the toxic gas had escaped into the plant and surrounding neighborhood.

Because there is risk that anhydrous ammonia can cause severe injury or death, the neighborhood residents had to shelter in place for hours and the delayed 911 call reportedly led to the emergency nature of the scenario.

Ultimately no injuries were reported, but Eggo wasn’t off the hook.

The Santa Clara County California DA’s Office recently announced that the waffle maker had been criminally charged with “negligently discharging an air contaminant, failing to immediately report that release, providing inadequate training to its contractors, and failing to implement an adequate emergency action plan."

Since the incident, the DA says Eggo has cooperated and also has upgraded procedures and systems in order to prevent this from happening again. After being convicted of the charges, Eggo was also fined $85,000.

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