Flavoring Company Agrees To Reduce Use Of Ingredient Blamed For “Popcorn Lung”

The backlash against popcorn flavoring diacetyl continues, as one Indianapolis company has agreed to reduce its use of the chemical in popcorn flavoring in order to pay a smaller fine in a settlement with state regulators. As part of the agreement, the company also wrapped up its claims that the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration had been harassing it over the potential health risks at the plant.

Sensient Flavors had claimed in a federal lawsuit that IOSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health had “harassed and intimidated” the company while subjecting it to “enormous intrusions” that violated its constitutional rights reports the Indiana Business Journal.

The trouble all started because of the use of diacetyl, which is used to flavor popcorn and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but has been blamed for ill health effects known as “popcorn lung.” Some factory workers exposed to the chemical for long periods of time have claimed ill health effects due to exposure to the ingredient.

Sensient says in the settlement that it will reduce diacetyl by 20% in its products and get rid of it altogether where it can by the end of the year. It will pay $99,000 instead of $325,000 in fines for violating IOSHA standards.

So far it’s mostly been factory workers who have complained of ill health after prolonged exposure to diacetyl, but there have been a few cases of consumers who eat a whole lot of microwave popcorn claiming they’ve also developed popcorn lung.

Sensient settles over use of ‘popcorn lung’ chemical [Indiana Business Journal]