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Thursday, June 21, 2012

NIOSH Warns of Flavoring-Related Lung Disease

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is now providing information to healthcare providers to assist them to identify and treat flavoring-related lung disease. Workers who breathe flavoring chemicals containing diacetyl, such as butter flavoring, may be at risk of severe obstructive lung disease.

Who is at risk? 

Workers who make, use, or work near flavoring chemicals containing diacetyl or 2,3-pentanedione may be at risk. Settings where these exposures may occur include:
  • Flavoring plants 
  • Microwave popcorn plant
  •   Commercial and retail bakeries
  •   Snack food and candy plants
  •   Dairy products and packaged vegetable oil plants (e.g., margarine, cooking oil)
  •   Other flavored food production plants.Exposures in the flavoring industry and in microwave popcorn production have caused workers to have severe lung disease. The burden of hazardous exposures and risk to workers in other settings remains unclear. However, it is important to consider the possibility of flavoring-related lung disease in workers who have been exposed to diacetyl or similar flavoring chemicals and have respiratory symptoms

About Symptoms

Symptoms are not present in all cases. When present, symptoms can range in severity. The main respiratory symptoms experienced by workers include:
  • Cough (usually without phlegm)
  • Shortness of breath on exertion
  • Wheezing
Other symptoms experienced by some workers include: 
  • Fever, night sweats, or weight loss
  • Frequent or persistent eye, nose, throat, or skin irritation
In cases of flavoring-related lung disease, respiratory symptoms do not typically improve when the worker goes home at the end of the workday, on weekends, or on vacations. The symptoms often have a gradual onset but can occur suddenly. Work-related exposure to butter flavoring chemicals  might also lead to asthma or exacerbate pre-existing asthma.

Related Topics

Aug 18, 2011
For public review and comment, the draft document summarizes current scientific knowledge about the occupational safety and health implications of the food flavorings diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione, and recommends ...

Dec 22, 2010
Diacetyl is a substance widely used in food and beverage flavorings. Diacetyl is used in a wide variety of food flavorings, although flavor manufacturers have begun to reduce or eliminate the amount of diacetyl in some kinds ...

California Becomes First State to Set Safety Guidelines for Flavoring
Dec 04, 2010
Cal/OSHA continues to be a national leader in worker safety by implementing a new standard today to protect employees who work with diacetyl, a chemical commonly used to give food flavorings a buttery taste. Cal/OSHA, a...

Legislation to Protect Food Flavoring ...
Sep 27, 2000The legislation would force the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue rules limiting workers' exposure to diacetyl, a chemical used in artificial food flavoring for microwave popcorn and other foods.

Candy Makers Found to Have Popcorn Lung - Flavoring Illness
Apr 07, 2009
It has been reported by, Andrew Schneider, investigative reporter, that severe cases of "popcorn lung" caused by exposure to diacetyl butter are now being reported in candy makers as well. Five cases of severe lung disease ...
Sep 06, 2010
A jury in the Chicago area awarded a local factory worker $30.4 Million for a pulmonary illness resulting from exposure to popcorn flavoring, diacetyl. The verdict is considered to be largest ever in the US for an individual claim ...

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