Microwave buttered popcorn is killing workers

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Microwave buttered popcorn is killing workers

The butter in the microwave buttered popcorn is killing the workers. Can you ever really enjoy it again?

A group of California food-flavoring workers have been recently diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and life-threatening form of fixed obstructive lung disease. Also known as popcorn workers lung, because it has turned up in workers at microwave-popcorn factories, the disease destroys the lungs. A transplant is the only cure.

Since 2001, academic studies have shown links between the disease and a chemical used in artificial butter flavor called diacetyl.

Flavoring manufacturers have paid out more than $100 million as a result of lawsuits by people sick with popcorn workers lung over the past five years. One death from the disease has been confirmed.

But no federal laws regulate the chemical's use. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still deciding what standards to set for workers who handle it.

In late April, the head of OSHA, Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin G. Foulke Jr., testified before Congress that the agency will begin inspecting microwave-popcorn factories this month.

... Quote:
It's not some carcinogen where you get cancer 30 years from now or something. The people are dying right in front of you. You can't wait until you have all the evidence. You have to regulate it.

Michaels said.

Even less is known about the health effects of eating diacetyl in butter-flavored popcorn, or breathing the fumes after the bag is microwaved.

The Environmental Protection Agency has studied the fumes but is waiting for the industry to review the study before releasing it. The Food and Drug Administration has diacetyl on its list of substances "generally recognized as safe" but has not studied it.

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By netchicken: posted on 8-5-2007

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