Flavoring Workers' Lung (Popcorn/Diacetyl)

Category archives for Flavoring Workers’ Lung (Popcorn/Diacetyl)

Diacetyl Still Around, Still a Problem

Diacetyl – the butter-flavoring chemical linked to severe lung disease in food and flavoring workers – hasn’t been in the news much recently. It got a lot of attention in September, when we drew attention to the case of a Colorado man who appeared to have developed bronciolitis obliterans from eating microwave popcorn twice a…

Last month, Andrew Schneider reported in the Seattle PI that the use of diacetyl-containing cooking oils could be putting professional cooks at risk for the same severe lung disease that’s struck workers in microwave-popcorn and flavor factories. Now, Schneider brings us news that the UNITE HERE union is urging manufacturers to remove diacetyl from cooking…

Open Laboratory 2007

Science bloggers Bora Zivkovic (also known as Coturnix) and Reed Cartwright, assisted by a panel of judges, are putting together an anthology of science blog posts from the past year – and I’m honored to report that my post “Popcorn Lung Coming to Your Kitchen? The FDA Doesn’t Want to Know” is included. Open Laboratory…

Who’s Looking After the Cooks’ Lungs?

OSHA? No.  It’s Andrew Schneider and his colleagues at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  In “Flavoring Additive Puts Professional Cooks at Risk,” the reporter describes a study commissioned by the newspaper to determine how much of the butter-flavoring agent diacetyl becomes airborne when used in a restaurant cook’s work setting.  Exposure to diacetyl is associated with the severe lung disease bronchiolitis…

International Union Urges Diacetyl Action

Europe is often ahead of the US when it comes to protecting its people from environmental and occupational hazards, but our public health officials led the way in identifying the hazards of diacetyl, the butter-flavoring chemical that causes severe lung disease in workers. When ten workers from a Missouri microwave popcorn plant were diagnosed with the rare…

The long awaited EPA study of chemicals emitted when microwave popcorn is popped has just been published. Its results are not surprising: popping microwave butter flavor popcorn releases a sizable number of chemicals into the air, although not necessarily in large amounts. These chemicals include diacetyl, the primary chemical implicated in the bronchiolitis obliterans (“popcorn…

Will OSHA Prove Us Wrong?

Just before the House passed legislation last month requiring OSHA to regulate diacetyl, OSHA’s press office went into high gear, announcing the agency was getting to work on just that issue. Two days before the vote, OSHA announced it was initiating rulemaking under section 6(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. In other words,…

OSHA Official’s Alternate Reality

Are the political appointees who run OSHA delusional or merely mendacious? In her column in today’s Washington Post, Cindy Skrzycki reviews the efforts by members of Congress to require OSHA to issue standards protecting workers from diacetyl, the artificial butter flavor chemical that causes irreversible lung disease. One statement jumped out: “I would characterize us…

While the House of Representatives was voting Wednesday to approve the Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act (here), OSHA’s Assistant Secretary Edwin Foulke had just mailed a letter rejecting a petition from a group of workers’ who’d asked for emergency protection from the respiratory hazards caused by butter-flavoring agents.  Mr. Foulke’s response is not only tardy—it took them 14…

Quote of the Day

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) explaining his opposition to H.R. 2693, the Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act, which would require OSHA to protect workers from breathing toxic chemicals used in artificial butter flavor: “If there’s something wrong with popcorn, how did Orville Redenbacher live so long?”