ConAgra Foods Inc., the nation’s largest microwave popcorn maker, has decided to remove the chemical diacetyl from the buttery flavoring in Orville Redenbacher and Act II popcorn. This decision came after a pulmonary specialist at Denver’s National Jewish Medical and Research Center claimed that a consumer developed lung disease from inhaling the fumes from microwaving popcorn numerous times a day. This would be the first instance of a consumer developing “popcorn lung” from the flavoring chemical.
ConAgra spokeswoman Stephanie Childs said the company decided to remove the butter flavoring diacetyl from its popcorn because of the risk the chemical presents to workers who handle large quantities.
Many workers at popcorn plants have developed bronchitis and asthma, and some have even developed bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare lung disease which can be fatal.
ConAgra stated that they did not know when they would be able to replace the flavoring chemical, but stated that it would be taken out of popcorn within the next year.
The company has been attempting to change things at the popcorn plants to reduce workers exposure to the chemical. ConAgra does not believe that diacetyl has any effect on consumers, and they are making this change to protect their employees.
For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Defective and Dangerous Products.