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  1. Did/Do you work in food manufacturing, flavoring, fragrances?
  2. Did you then develop a lung disease?

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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 manufacure 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 oblitrerans 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

 

Should you file an Diacetyl Lawsuit to protect your legal rights?

Did you or do you currently work in one of the following industries?

Food Manufacturing

Coffee Manufacturing

Popcorn Manufacturing

Flavoring

Fragrences

Did you then develop any of these Lung Diseases?

Bronchiolitis Obliterans

Other Lung Diseases

If you answered yes to these two questions you should look into your legal rights. Fill out our Secure Diacetyl Instant Case Evaluation if you believe you may need to protect your legal rights.

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