By David Michaels

In July, two unions, backed by a group of scientists, petitioned both federal OSHA and California OSHA to issue rules to protect workers from diacetyl, the chemical implicated in dozens of cases of lung disease in the food industry (See our earlier post “Artificial Butter Flavor is (Still) Killing Workers”).

Federal OSHA continues to do nothing. Earlier this month, a group of us met with several high level OSHA officials, who told us that the agency was still considering our petition. In other words, no action planned.

California, however, is moving forward.


The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has announced that, at their meeting in January, they will issue the following decision:

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board has considered the petition…to adopt an emergency temporary standard to protect workers from exposure to diacetyl, and begin rulemaking proceedings to establish a permanent standard to protect workers from exposure to all food flavorings. The Board has considered the recommendations of the Division [of Occupational Safety and Health] and Board staff. The Board has determined that the petition be GRANTED to the extent that the representative advisory committee, which initially was convened by the Division on September 28, 2006, should consider the rulemaking issues presented in the petition and, if warranted, develop proposed language for an emergency and/or permanent standard to be presented to the Board at a future public hearing.

The proposed decision document includes extensive background on the CalOSHA’s attempts to protect workers in the flavoring industry. Additional documents and studies on diacetyl and lung disease are posted on SKAPP’s website.

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