“Diacetyl-linked jury verdicts of tens of millions of dollars for injured flavoring workers and diagnoses of lung damage in at least three popcorn-loving consumers forced popcorn packers and other food processors to stop using the chemical butter-flavoring two years ago,” writes investigative journalist Andrew Schneider in a May 28, 2009, article examining claims that possible diacetyl replacements– starter distillate and diacetyl trimmer–still include the “lung-destroying chemical.”

According to Andrew Schneider Investigates, scientists with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have published a book, titled Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, that suggests these diacetyl alternatives pose an even greater health risk because they penetrate “the deepest parts of the lung.” Starter distillate is reportedly a product of milk fermentation that contains up to 4 percent diacetyl, while the diacetyl trimmer contains three diacetyl molecules. “The wording here (no added diacetyl) is telling,” said co-author Kathleen Kreiss, who heads NIOSH’s Field Studies Branch. “The chemical may not be added, but diacetyl is still in butter-flavored popcorn.”

Schneider also reports that proposed diacetyl regulations may not include these substitutes, noting that occupational health experts have criticized the butter-flavoring industry for withholding information as proprietary. “We know far too little about the substitutes to diacetyl or reformulated diacetyl-compounds that food manufacturers are now using, or planning to use,” one researcher at George
Washington University’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health was quoted as saying.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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