Just like most individuals out there perhaps you also crave buttered microwave popcorn. If this is the case, you should consider reducing the amount of popcorn you consume as it contains diacetyl which can be harmful to your health. So what is diacetyl? It is a chemical commonly found in e-cigarettes and microwave popcorn which has been associated with respiratory diseases such as popcorn lung also known as bronchiolitis obliterans. This disease is usually contracted when an individual directly inhales diacetyl fumes. According to research, consuming diacetyl has not been found to harmful to human health, however, inhaling it has been found to cause a deadly disease known as popcorn lung.
Diacetyl in food industry
Normally, diacetyl is usually produced during fermentation, but chemical companies also manufacture it as a synthetic compound which is used as an artificial additive in many consumer products. It is usually considered as safe for consumption but harmful when inhaled. Other than being used as a flavor additive in foods like cheese and butter it is also used as a flavor in most e-cigarettes. Due to the increase lawsuits being filed on behalf of individuals who have suffered from inhaling diacetyl, the chemical is being replaced with acetyl propionyl (AP). However, researchers are still questioning the safety of AP since it has a similar structural property as diacetyl.
Use of diacetyl in popcorn
For more than a decade, workers in popcorn industries who have been diagnosed with popcorn lung has been filing lawsuits claiming that it was due to exposure to diacetyl. Workers who filed lawsuits claimed that the companies did not warn them against the dangers of inhaling diacetyl. Recently, Wayne Watson, the first consumer, to be diagnosed popcorn lung filed a suit and was awarded $7 million by the court. It was stated that the company failed to warn Mr. Watson who had a habit of consuming two bags of microwave popcorn per day for 10 years about the risk. Since Mr. Watson’s case, popcorn companies have started using substitutes as flavor. However, there are still questions about the substitutes such as acetyl propionyl since researchers believe they could have similar effects as diacetyl.
Diacetyl in vaping pens
E-cigarettes are usually devised to deliver flavored nicotine in the form of vapor instead of tobacco. Unfortunately, most popular e-cigarettes contain harmful flavors such as diacetyl and manufacture are not obliged to disclose such information. Heating of diacetyl has been known to cause deadly respiratory disease ‘popcorn lung’. The mystery remains whether e-cigars will be the next source of popcorn lung and what will the victims do as there is no law regulating e-cigars.
It is argued that since diacetyl is used in many consumer industry products, calling the disease and the subsequent lawsuits popcorn lung is a stretch to the popcorn industry. It has been found out that diacetyl also harms workers in other food processing industries such as animal feed, coffee grinding, chocolate and flavored syrup industries. In fact, there have been several lawsuits that have been filed outside popcorn industry relating to diacetyl chemical.
If you have been diagnosed with any disease due to exposure to a chemical and the manufacturer or employer had not warned against the risk then you should know that you have legal rights to file for damages