Diacetyl Lawsuits Filed On Behalf of Individuals Exposed to Diacetyl

Diacetyl exposure is linked to several serious lung diseases and workers from multiple industries are filing lawsuits at this time.

Many people crave a buttery bag of microwave popcorn on occasion, but most people are unaware that the butter flavor and smell in popcorn and other foods comes from diacetyl or a diacetyl substitute (acetyl propionyl), chemicals that have been linked to a serious lung disease.

Current studies do not suggest that eating diacetyl will cause permanent health issues, however, studies show that breathing in diacetyl results in a progressive and debilitating lung disease.


Diacetyl Flavoring in Food Industries

Diacetyl is a chemical compound produced by yeast during fermentation.  But, chemical companies also manufacture diacetyl as a synthetic chemical using it as an artificial food additive in many consumer products.

In its synthetic state, Diacetyl is a hazardous chemical used in manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. Diacetyl is a flavoring agent that is considered safe to eat but potentially hazardous when inhaled. It is used to produce a variety of flavors in foods, particularly dairy flavors like butter and cheese, and brown flavors like caramel and butterscotch. It is also one of the several chemicals used to flavor some of the 7,000 varieties of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) currently on the market. Diacetyl occurs naturally in some foods, such as dairy products, beer, and wine.

Due to its potential for causing respiratory illness, diacetyl has been largely phased out of the artificial flavoring industry and replaced with acetyl propionyl (AP). Although AP (like diacetyl) is approved for use in food, some researchers have raised questions about the potential toxicity of AP inhalation due to structural similarities between the two chemicals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed concern that AP and diacetyl could be equally toxic.

While there are currently no specific standards for occupational exposure to butter-flavoring or the chemicals diacetyl or acetyl propionyl, OSHA is investigating the flavorings-related lung diseases and is offering standards that regulate the workplaces to protect workers exposed to these substances.

The two food industry segments where diacetyl exposure has been documented include establishments producing (1) butter, cheese, dairy, fruit and other diacetyl-containing flavors and (2) butter-flavored microwave popcorn.  Diacetyl-containing flavors are also widely used in other food industries, such as those producing snack foods, bakery products, margarine, cooking oils, animal food products, coffee, confectionaries, tortilla manufacturing and others.

Additionally, Diacetyl is used in many vaping products used in e-cigarettes leading experts such as former Surgeon General Murthy to note that e-cigarettes may serve as a “gateway drug.”

Diacetyl is a hazardous chemical used in manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. Diacetyl is a flavoring agent that is considered safe to eat but potentially hazardous when inhaled. It is used to produce a variety of flavors in foods, particularly dairy flavors like butter and cheese, and brown flavors like caramel and butterscotch. It is also one of the several chemicals used to flavor some of the 7,000 varieties of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) currently on the market. Diacetyl occurs naturally in some foods, such as dairy products, beer, and wine.

Due to its potential for causing respiratory illness, diacetyl has been largely phased out of the artificial flavoring industry and replaced with acetyl propionyl (AP). Although AP (like diacetyl) is approved for use in food, some researchers have raised questions about the potential toxicity of AP inhalation due to structural similarities between the two chemicals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expressed concern that AP and diacetyl could be equally toxic.

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Popcorn Lung Lawsuits

For almost 15 years, the flavoring chemical, diacetyl has been the subject “popcorn lung lawsuits” for workers who were diagnosed with “popcorn lung” from workplace exposure at the Gilster-Mary Lee popcorn plant in Jasper MO.  Lawsuits followed in several other states for workers who were not warned of the dangers of exposure to the hazardous chemical, diacetyl in popcorn plants.

Then, in 2012, Wayne Watson, was the first consumer who developed “popcorn lung” as a result of eating two bags of microwave popcorn daily for 10 years.  Watson, a Colorado native, was awarded $7 million by a jury who believed the manufacturer of the popcorn, Gilster-Mary Lee, should have warned Mr. Watson about the risk.

As a result of Mr. Watson’s case, these major popcorn manufacturers began to produce “diacetyl-free” products, replacing the chemical with substitutes. However, studies by NIOSH and the Flavor and Extract Manufactures Association note that many of these substitutes are similar chemicals to diacetyl and yield similar adverse health effects.


Diacetyl Lawsuits Expand Beyond Popcorn Lung

Calling this disease and these lawsuits “popcorn lung” is a bit deceiving since it is now known that diacetyl is used in many different consumer product and food industries.  Diaceytl Lawsuits now include other flavoring company workers as more is learned about exposure to this toxic chemical, diacetyl.

Recent diacetyl lawsuits allege harm to workers in other flavoring related industries, including coffee processing facilities, chocolate, candy confectionaries, flavored syrups, animal feed, tortilla manufacturers and many other consumer product manufacturers.  Most recently, a jury in Orange County California awarded a man named Tanu Vatuvei $2.6 Million after he was harmed by exposure to diacetyl while on the job. Mr. Vatuvei was left with only 40% of his lung capacity as a result of working with diacetyl for nearly ten years at Mission Flavors & Fragrances.

Furthermore, it is now known that a large number of flavored vaping juices found in E-Cigarettes contain diacetyl. There have been at least two lawsuits filed against e-­cigarette manufacturers alleging failure to disclose the presence of diacetyl/AP in e-liquids and to warn of their associated risks. Both were putative class actions alleging consumer fraud­based claims filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. TruLaw continues to talk to individuals who are worried about the link between E-cigarettes and lung injuries.


Diacetyl Side Effects

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that it is safe to consume diacetyl in trace amounts, it is important to note that the FDA and the CDC do not state that it is safe to heat and inhale.  Ingesting small quantities of Diacetyl is very different than heating and inhaling the toxic chemical.

Inhaling Diacetyl can lead to scar tissue build-up in the lungs, blocking airflow and potentially damaging the lungs permanently. Although diacetyl affects mainly the lungs, can also affect the eyes, nose, throat, and skin gradually or suddenly, depending on the degree of exposure.

Flavorings-related fixed obstructive disease usually presents with a non-productive cough and the subsequent development of exertional shortness of breath. Onset of “popcorn lung” is usually gradual, but disease progression in a matter of months has been identified. Bronchiolitis obliterans is also commonly misdiagnosed. More information about bronchiolitis obliterans can be found here.

If you are a worker who regularly enters or works in areas where flavoring ingredients may be inhaled, you should consistently monitor your health and specifically the health of your lungs and take precautions such as wearing proper respiratory protections.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Sometimes you need a lawyer near you and sometimes its best to hire a lawyer based on the lawyer’s resources and experiences.

The right lawyer for mass-tort litigations may not be your local lawyer. Mass tort cases filed all over the country are often consolidated into a single courtroom in order to move the many lawsuits through the courts in the most effective and efficient way. A lawyer experienced with the multidistrict litigation process with the ability to represent clients in all 50 states, is likely to be a good fit for mass tort litigation.

TruLaw is not afraid to take on the largest drug and medical device companies in the world. We work with trusted legal affiliates to make sure that TruLaw clients have the resources and experiences needed to hold big business accountable when they put profits over people.

Your lawsuit is designed to help you financially recover from injuries that were caused by someone else. We hope putting your trust in TruLaw will take away your concern of protecting your legal rights., but it is most important to us that you spend your time recovering physically.

Your lawsuit should assist in covering your medical bills, the amount of income and benefits that you lost as a result of your injury and, if your injuries are permanent, we will look to recover for your permanent disfigurement.

In addition, it is always our hope that your lawsuit will help us to remove dangerous drugs, toxins and devices from the market. We are not only lawyers, but also safety advocates that believe in getting information out to the public so no more people are injured. We hope you will join us in the role as a safety advocate.

We understand the frustration in waiting to hear about settlements in product liability lawsuits. Unfortunately, in drug and device cases, we have no choice but to sue some of the most profitable companies in the world. Big Pharma has deep pockets and lawsuits are a cost of doing business for them. They are not inclined to settle until it makes business sense to them.

TruLaw lawyers building our cases with an eye on winning in court as well as settlement, when we believe that is the best result for our clients. We will never settle without advising you of your options, and we will keep you posted on our progress, to the extent we are legally able.

We often hear injured people refer to their personal injury case as a “class action” because their case was grouped together in a lawsuit with other injured people. This is most often NOT the case. Often, individual cases are grouped together so the attorneys and judge can address common procedural issues initially, saving time for the injured parties and the court, but this is very generally referred to as a “mass tort.”

A Mass tort refers to civil actions involving numerous plaintiffs against one or a few corporate defendants in state or federal court. Class actions are mass torts that are generally used on financial losses and multidistrict litigations (MDL) are generally used on personal injury claims, often in product liability cases.

MDL is a procedural tool used when plaintiffs have incurred injuries from products manufactured by the same defendant(s). Even when plaintiffs incur injuries from the same defendant(s), the amount of damages they may recover for those injuries are often substantially different from other plaintiffs included in the same lawsuit.

It is important to understand that mass tort cases are an effective tool to getting the attention of the large drug and device companies. MDLs assist lawyers in determining exactly what the drug and device companies knew about the risks their products caused and whether or not they should have warned consumers. Too often, consumers believe that they can file a single lawsuit and get the attention of big drug companies. This is very hard to do.

Technically, MDLs do not happen until a judicial panel transfers individual cases to a single court. Depending on when your lawsuit is filed, you may find yourself automatically transferred to the MDL court or you may wait to learn when and if the JPML believes an MDL is the proper venue for the mass tort.

But, rest assured, even if your case is included in an MDL, TruLaw lawyers will treat your injuries, your medical history and your financial needs separately. We are aware that not all cases are the same.

A corporation, by definition is profit seeking. There is no requirement that a corporation act morally. Unfortunately, too often we see dangerous drugs, devices and products remain on the market when corporations prioritize profit over people.

If these same corporations warn consumers of these risks, there is no case. We only pursue lawsuits on behalf of individuals who were not warned of the risk associated with the dangerous drug, device or product on the market.

TruLaw is pursuing diacetyl lawsuits because we believe consumers were not properly warned of the risks of injury.

Did a recent diacetyl commercial grab your attention? Did you find our site because you were wondering if you qualify for Diacetyl lawsuits?

We built the Diacetyl Instant Case Evaluator as a no cost/no obligation place for you to find answers about your legal rights. If you found us today, you are looking for instant answers to whether you should file a diacetyl or other lawsuit and we want to help you. We believe that in order for you to make important decisions about your health and your legal rights, you need to start with information. We provide you this valuable information so you are prepared to talk to a lawyer.