Green Buckeye RN

Columbus Dispatch: Some Chemicals Used In Place Of Diacetyl May Be More Toxic
May 12, 2010, 9:49 am
Filed under: News

Wednesday,  May 12, 2010 2:54 AM
By Anietra Hamper

 Stung by lawsuits, consumer complaints and politicians’ calls for action, many food producers have stopped using a flavoring additive that’s been linked to a debilitating, irreversible lung condition found in workers at popcorn factories.

It turns out, though, that some of the chemicals used in place of the additive, diacetyl, might be just as dangerous – if not more so.

Diacetyl has long been used to give microwave popcorn and other foods a buttery flavor.

Preliminary studies suggest that one popular substitute, 2,3-pentanedione, causes the same tissue damage, say researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH. The institute is a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Pentanedione is a little less water-soluble, so it might be better able to reach the deep lung,” said Dr. Ann Hubbs, a toxicologist at the institute’s Health Effects Laboratory Division in Morgantown, W.Va.

“It might actually be more dangerous than diacetyl itself.”

Hubbs said that although more research needs to be done, the preliminary findings are troubling.

“No one wants what happened to the diacetyl workers to happen again,” she said.

Hundreds of popcorn workers have sued their employers and flavor manufacturers after developing bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “popcorn lung.” The litigation has resulted in numerous settlements and judgments totaling more than $100 million.

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