First Consumer With Popcorn Lung Speaks Out

Wayne Watson, the man who loved microwave popcorn so much he ate it twice a day for 10 years is speaking out about his condition for the first time.

He’s telling America to learn from his example and practice moderation.

From the Associated Press:

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, the 53-year-old furniture salesman had a message to convey: “America: Read the labels, and just be careful about what we put into our bodies and always practice moderation,” Watson said. “Don’t go crazy.”

Popcorn flavoring contains the chemical diacetyl, which has been linked to lung damage in factory workers testing hundreds of bags of microwave popcorn per day and inhaling its fumes. The chemical is a naturally occurring compound that gives butter its flavor and is also found in cheese and even wine, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

It’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a flavor ingredient, but hundreds of workers have sued flavoring makers in recent years for lung damage.

While eating diacetyl seems to be ok, inhaling it constantly is another matter.

On Wednesday, the nation’s largest microwave popcorn maker, ConAgra, said it would stop using diacetyl within a year out of concern for its workers — not because of risks to consumers. ConAgra makes Act II and Orville Redenbacher brands.

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association said that Rose’s finding does not suggest a risk from eating microwave popcorn.

Popcorn Lung Patient Inhaled Fumes Daily [Associated Press]
Colorado Popcorn Lung Victim Talks About His Illness [CBS 4]
(Photo:CBS 4)

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