The food product flavoring process has become an area of serious concern because of the high risk of dangerous chemical exposure to employees. The coffee flavoring industry is no exception. Coffee flavoring plants have been found to contain a chemical called diacetyl and similarly dangerous chemicals. Breathing chemicals such as diacetyl can cause a rare lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung”. Diacetyl-induced popcorn lung occurs most frequently among workers in the flavoring industry who either heat diacetyl or mix flavorings containing diacetyl or similar chemicals. Among our clients are workers of a coffee manufacturing plant who inhaled diacetyl and other products in the butter flavoring and other flavoring agents used in making coffee products. These workers were exposed when they mixed flavoring agents with roasted coffee beans during the flavoring process. Sadly, several of these workers were recently diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans caused by their exposure to these dangerous coffee flavoring agents.
WHAT IS DIACETYL AND WHERE IS IT FOUND?
Diacetyl is a chemical used to give various food products a buttery flavor. It has been used in microwave popcorn and coffee manufacturing plants as well as other food flavoring processes. Although there have been a few instances where consumers were harmed by diacetyl exposure, it is very rare for consumers to encounter toxic levels of diacetyl. Treatment can require a lung transplant.
HOW CAN DIACETYL HURT ME?
Symptoms of popcorn lung include dry cough, shortness of breath, and wheezing. In other cases employees have suffered temporary eye irritation. Unfortunately, these symptoms can become disabling. The disease itself is life-threatening and irreversible.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT I MAY BE SUFFERING FROM A DIACETYL-RELATED CONDITION?
Speak to a doctor as soon as possible about your symptoms and exposure to flavoring agents, particularly butter flavoring containing diacetyl. To assure your continued health, additional testing and monitoring may be necessary.
DO I NEED A LAWYER TO HANDLE MY DIACETYL EXPOSURE CASE?
Because exposure to diacetyl and similar flavoring agents can result in serious medical conditions, it is highly advisable to consult with a qualified and experienced product liability attorney. If you or anyone you know has worked in a coffee flavoring plant it is recommended that you speak to professional. At Roberts & Roberts, the initial consultation is always free. There is never a charge unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you.