A chemical used to flavor certain food products has been linked to serious lung disease. People who have been exposed to this chemical have experienced severe injuries due to ingesting or inhaling the chemical. The United States Department of Labor provides a fact sheet regarding the use of this chemical.
Diacetyl and its use
Diacetyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation. It is also synthesized by chemical manufacturers. This chemical gives butter and certain food flavorings a distinctive buttery flavor and aroma. Food flavorings that contain diacetyl are used in microwave popcorn and other snack foods, pet foods, candies, and baked goods.
Exposure to Diacetyl hurts people
People who work at microwave popcorn plants and flavorings plants have long been exposed to diacetyl. These employees have developed serious problems due to their exposure to this chemical. Consumers who frequently enjoy microwave popcorn have also developed serious problems due to their exposure to this chemical.
Some symptoms experienced by people who have been exposed to diacetyl include:
- persistent dry cough,
- shortness of breath upon exertion, and
- fixed airways obstruction.
Several microwave popcorn and flavorings plant employees have been diagnosed with asthma or bronchiolitis obliterans. Asthma is a disorder that causes the lung’s airways to swell and narrow. This leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Bronchiolitis obliterans occurs when tiny airways become inflamed and scarred. This results in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. Because bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare disease, some people may have been potentially misdiagnosed with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or pneumonia. The loss of lung function associated with severe bronchiolitis obliterans is permanent. Some patients have been placed on lung transplant waiting lists.
Investigations by NIOSH show high incidents of injuries for employees who work near or around this chemical
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has investigated the occurrence of severe lung disease in employees who work at microwave popcorn packaging plants and flavorings manufacturing facilities. NIOSH reports that medical tests of employees at microwave popcorn plants showed fixed airways obstruction and other respiratory illnesses such as occupational asthma. NIOSH concluded that the lung diseases identified in these employees were likely due to exposure to butter flavoring chemicals.
Employees are not the only ones injured
Recently, a popcorn consumer filed a lawsuit regarding his lung injuries. He said that he typically ate two bags of microwave popcorn each day. Over time, he developed serious lung problems. In his lawsuit, he alleged that the companies he sued were responsible for either making or distributing the popcorn. The jury determined that the plaintiff’s lung disease was caused by ingesting diacetyl. The plaintiff received a judgment of over $7 million.
Other popcorn consumers have likely experienced similar problems. These consumers have also been negatively impacted by diacetyl. They may have valid legal claims against the makers and distributors of microwave popcorn.
Call us to discuss your potential claim
If you are concerned that microwave popcorn may have led to your lung problems, call us. The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Ankin Law Office LLC will discuss your popcorn lung claim with you. You may contact our attorneys by telephone at (312) 600-0000 or by email.