Employees at microwave popcorn plants around the country may have a serious health problem on their hands. Recently, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a report detailing the severe lung disorders
that dozens of employees at the Glister-Mary Lee Corporation's Jasper, Mo. popcorn factory have developed.
Scores of workers at the plant have developed bronchitis
. In addition, eight Jasper popcorn plant employees have developed bronchiolitis obliterans
, a rare lung disease which can be fatal. Six of the eight are currently awaiting lung transplants.
NIOSH believes that artificial butter flavoring used in the manufacturing process is causing these health problems. The agency is particularly concerned about diacetyl, a primary ingredient in many artificial butter products. The long-term effects of diacetyl exposure are unknown.
At this time, NIOSH officials believe that consumption of artificial butter flavored microwave popcorn remains safe. However, the agency admits that laboratory animals that ingested large quantities of the artificial flavoring developed lung diseases and died.
International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. is the manufacturer of the butter flavoring used at the Jasper plant.
In October 2003, NIOSH issued a similar warning to employees of a Northwest Ohio popcorn factory. According to NIOSH, abnormal lung problems were found in 29 of 200 workers tested at the ConAgra Snack Foods plant in Marion. The federal agency is recommending the use of respirators at the plant.
See your doctor if you work in the popcorn or artificial flavoring industry and have experienced serious health problems. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
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