Kraft Introduces New Butter Flavor Containing Diacetyl, The "Popcorn Lung" Ingredient

Recently, after numerous complaints of serious illness from popcorn workers and one complaint of illness from a consumer, ConAgra and Pop Weaver removed diacetyl from its microwave popcorn and now proudly announce to their customers that their product is diacetyl free. Kraft, on the other hand, decided that now would be a good time to introduce a brand new diacetyl-based butter flavor into the market.

Kraft says the flavor “can help improve the nutritional profile of products by reducing their calorie content.” Sadly, fake butter doesn’t taste the same, so manufacturers will have to “adjust their formulations – perhaps through the addition of functional starches or shortenings – in order to build back the texture and mouthfeel normally achieved by butter.” The flavor isn’t limited to popcorn, it can be used for any product where one would need a “toasted butter flavor,” including crackers, soups, and prepared meats.

Doesn’t Kraft worry about diacetyl’s health effects when inhaled?

The truth is, diacetyl doesn’t pose a great risk to consumers, and is really only dangerous when inhaled regularly in large amounts. Workers may be at risk, but there are still no OSHA standards that deal with diacetyl, so it seems that Kraft is in no hurry as long as consumers do not demand that they stop using the ingredient. Kraft says it is currently formulating a diacetyl-free version of the flavor, to be introduced at some time in the future.

“To some customers diacetyl is not an issue, to others it is. We’re moving forward towards formulating solutions to meet customer needs,” KFI flavorist Susan Parker told FoodNavigator-USA.com.

Kraft launches toasted butter flavor [Food Navigator via Pump Handle]
(Photo:greenmelinda)

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  1. CumaeanSibyl says:

    As long as it’s not aerosolized, I don’t see a problem. There are probably a lot of things out there that are safe to eat but not to inhale in large quantities.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    There goes my dream of working in a butter factory.

  3. Phildawg says:

    Honestly I agree with Kraft on this.

    A good analogy would be that alcohol in moderation suffers no ill effects to the body (some even try to say it is good for you) but alcohol consumed in large quantities on a daily basis has SEVERE health concerns. Yet you still see it on shelves, sometimes an entire isle of a grocery store representing about 15% of the available products, and of course it is readily available and well-documented.

  4. B says:

    Does this mean I can get butter that tastes like the “butter” on microwave popcorn? Wait, why would I want that?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows that Kraft is owned by Altria, a.k.a. Phillip Morris. What’s a little popcorn lung compared with decades of lung cancer?

  6. MBPharmD says:

    Diacetyl is a common byproduct of yeast fermentation…i.e. beer. Especially ringwood strains of yeast, commonly found in English beers and a select few US Microbreweries (Shipyard comes to mind). It lends a buttery/slick taste & feel to beer that some people love and others detest. My main point being that it’s been around forever & naturally produced – so don’t get your panties in a bunch about this.

  7. harshmellow says:

    So if we don’t complain, screw us, and if OSHA doesn’t complain, screw our employees. Heck, Kraft is probably getting a good deal on its diacetyl, since more consumer-friendly companies are removing it from their products. Note to Kraft: you should save your money for the inevitable class-action employee lawsuit over diacetyl in your future.

  8. Red_Eye says:

    Hey dont let Paula Dean accidentally get ahold of this thinking its butte,r she could popcorn lung the whole eastern seaboard!

    Seriously I am sick of fake ingredients.

  9. Hitchcock says:

    “The truth is, diacetyl doesn’t pose a great risk to consumers, and is really only dangerous when inhaled regularly in large amounts.”

    Neither does asbestos, yet that didn’t stop it from getting banned and huge lawsuits won.

  10. Framling says:

    I’m sorry, what does this have to do with the Lan O’Lakes butter in the image? They have nothing to do with Kraft.

  11. vanilla-fro says:

    diacetyl is in a bunch of stuff already folks. hell it was in the microwave popcorn, but everybody but the workers and that one guy is fine. I believe it occurrs in beer too. and i feel fine, very fine.

  12. AcidReign says:

        Yeah, we use tons of Land O Lakes unsalted in this house! What’s up with that? All I know is that Kraft better not mess with that cheese packet in their instant mac ‘n’ cheese! You don’t play with perfection…

  13. Trai_Dep says:

    Wait, you mean yellow-colored lard isn’t made by bonnet-wearing, hoop-skirt clad lassies with rosy cheeks and strong (rawr!) forearms?

    Man. I’m SO switching to the real thing.

    On an ethical note, is it okay to consume something we know causes tennis-ball sized tumors in the workers that make it for us? Gods know if dogs (or cats: the real horror to contemplate) were crippled in this fashion for a consumer item, picket lines would form instantly. I guess, since they’re only humans, it’s the Free Market, BAYBIE!

  14. FLConsumer says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: You’ve got it right. As long as it’s not aersolized, it’s not a problem. Ever had popcorn “butter” at a movie theater? That’s just diacetyl + yellow food coloring + vegetable oil. It even exists in beer. UNLIKE asbestos, diacetyl is a natural byproduct of bacteria.

  15. UpsetPanda says:

    The one consumer who was affected by diacetyl ate two bags of butter popcorn A DAY..based on the salt and caloric intake, I don’t think diacetyl was his biggest problem.

  16. McWatt says:

    lucky for me i just stick to huffing all-natural butter. it’s more work of course, getting the stick in the aerosol can, but it’s worth it!

  17. wesrubix says:

    You know inhaling large amounts of salt is bad for you too.