Calbee recalls microwaveable potato chips days after launch for fire hazard

Just days after their launch in Japan, these microwaveable potato chips, Renji de Poterich, developed by Calbee, were recalled over concerns that they may catch fire.

Just days after their launch, Japanese potato chip manufacturer Calbee recalled all bags of their new microwaveable potato chips, Renji de Poterich, over concerns that they may catch fire.

On February 19, a limited run of Renji de Poterich hit the shelves of leading convenience store chain Family Mart across the country.

Snack fans flocked for a taste of these warm chips seasoned with butter and soy sauce.

Taste Test by SoraNews24

Here at SoraNews24, we believe in striking while the iron is hot. We also believe in eating the potato chips while they’re hot, at least since Japanese snack maker Calbee announced its new line of microwavable potato chips.

While the idea of microwavable chips might sound simple, Calbee actually spent more than two years experimenting with different types of packaging and flavors.

The Renji de (this means 'in the microwave') chips come in a special bag with a perforated edge where you’re supposed to make a small tear before heating it in the microwave, allowing hot air to escape so that the bag doesn’t burst.

We couldn’t imagine any way potato chips would taste worse warm, and since the Renji de Poterich Rich chips are exclusively sold at Family Mart convenience stores and available in limited quantities, we rushed out to pick up a bag (for 152 yen [US$1.40]) as soon as we could.

Once the timer went ding, we pulled open the door, and immediately the delicious scent of butter flooded the room.

The Renji de Poterich chips are seasoned with butter from Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, and the rich, creamy aroma that rises from them when they’re heated is amazingly mouthwatering.

SoraNews24 Taste Test (Courtesy: Instagram)

So how do they taste? Rather than leave the taste-test duties up to a single member of our staff, we assembled a five-person panel……and they were unanimous: microwaved potato chips are absolutely amazing.

Calbee says its goal was to provide customers with the same satisfying experience its employees can enjoy at the factory, where they can munch on freshly cooked chips that just came off the production line.

But while the Renji de Poterich chips taste great, and are enticingly warm (40 seconds of cooking time doesn’t make them so piping hot that you can’t dig in with gusto), we can’t get over how much the delicious smell adds to how your brain perceives the flavor.
However, on February 22 Calbee made a shocking announcement that they were recalling all bags of Renji de Poterich immediately over concerns that they may catch fire. It’s been reported that the company had received complaints from some customers that smoke and flames had appeared while heating.

In total, 160,000 bags will have to be reclaimed. To make matters worse, the highly anticipated Renji de Pizza Potato, scheduled to be released on 12 March, has also been suspended.

It is unclear what went wrong with the chips in these instances, especially since Calbee is said to have spent two years designing them.

Perhaps it was user error, such as forgetting to tear the package open slightly, or using the microwave’s automatic mode when the label explicitly says not to.