Diacetyl has been under a lot of scrutiny in the last few years for its links to severe negative effects on the lungs. It is a flavoring agent that mimics the creamy taste of butter, and is used in products such as baking mixes, microwave popcorn, beer, and e-cigarette liquids.
Recently, a study has linked consumption of the chemical to Alzheimer’s Disease. It has also been linked to lung damage that leads to bronchiolitis obliterans, a disease where the smallest airways of the lungs have become inflamed and scarred, severely restricting airflow. Lawsuits have been aimed at flavoring manufacturers for the lung diseases and lung damage allegedly caused by diacetyl.
Professional cooks are at risk of diacetyl exposure through inhalation, as well, from the number of chemicals found in cooking sprays. FoxNews.com published an article advising consumers to check the ingredients before using the product, but that doesn’t always prove helpful in avoiding the chemical.
Despite the number of complaints about negative effects of diacetyl, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require diacetyl to be listed on food labels because it considers the chemical to be a food substance Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).
Colorado resident Wayne Watson was awarded $7.2 million from three companies for his serious lung disease that he claims was caused by the multiple bags of microwave popcorn he consumed every single day. Diacetyl is a common flavoring used in microwave popcorn, but Mr. Watson wasn’t aware of this as he “particularly enjoyed inhaling the buttery steam pouring out of a just-opened package.”
Mr. Watson’s lung disease is also known as “popcorn lung” for eight microwave popcorn plant workers in Missouri that contracted the disease. In 2000 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an arm of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), investigated the workers and traced the disease back to the plant in which they worked, where they were exposed daily to the lung-destroying flavoring agent known as diacetyl.
Source: Huffington Post