According to this ABC News article, Wayne Watson, a Denver consumer of microwave popcorn was awarded $7.2 million in a lawsuit filed against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc., alleging that the popcorn manufacturers and retailers were responsible for a rare disease he developed from inhaling the artificial butter smell of microwave popcorn.
The potentially deadly disease, known as “popcorn lung,” is known to cause serious respiratory problems and is commonly found in factory workers who have been exposed to high levels of diacetyl, an artificial flavoring used to give popcorn that buttery taste. Diacetyl has also been connected to injuries and illnesses in employees at the manufacturing plants of other food products that use butter flavoring, including tortillas, food spray, corn syrup, candy, frozen foods and several snacks and pastries.
The plaintiff, who consumed about two bags of popcorn everyday for 10 years, filed a lawsuit against the popcorn maker and the supermarket that sold it, Kroger, claiming the companies never warned consumers that diacetyl, which has also recently been linked to Alzheimer’s, was dangerous.
Although consumers are currently not likely at risk of developing diacetyl-related illness as manufacturers have discontinued the use of diacetyl in microwave popcorn, this article notes that some experts have raised concerns over other chemicals that are used to coat microwave bags. When these chemicals break are heated, they break down into perfluorooctinoic acid, or PFOA, a designated “likely carcinogen” by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
What are the symptoms of popcorn lung?
Popcorn lung is a respiratory disease that can cause the following symptoms:
- Scarring and hardening of lung tissue
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
If you have experienced respiratory problems after consuming microwave popcorn, you may want to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury or product liability attorney like those at Ankin Law Office, LLC. Our skilled Chicago accident and injury attorneys focus on representing the victims of personal injury and product liability injuries, including those who are injured as a result of dangerous food products.