Groups urge limits on popcorn additive

Two senators, union leaders and researchers urged the federal government to set tougher restrictions on a microwave popcorn additive linked to lung disease among factory workers heavily exposed to it.

Groups urge limits on popcorn additive

The chemical diacetyl, used as a butter flavoring in some microwave popcorn, has been linked to serious lung damage in workers who test hundreds of bags per day and inhale their fumes. It also was tied to disease in one consumer who ate microwave popcorn nightly and breathed the steam from freshly cooked bags.

Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Patty Murray of Washington sent letters on the matter Friday to the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Labor.

"We urge you to examine immediately the risks of consumer exposure to diacetyl," they told the FDA and CDC. In a separate letter, they urged the Labor Department to issue an "emergency temporary standard" for employees regularly exposed to the chemical, saying it "has caused death and serious injury in many workers."

Kennedy said in a statement: "It is shocking that the federal agencies charged with safeguarding American workers and consumers have failed to act, despite the growing evidence that this chemical is a serious threat." Congress will act if the Bush administration does not, he said.

FDA spokeswoman Kimberly Rawlings said her agency is "evaluating the recent information on the association of inhalation of diacetyl with lung disease" and is "carefully considering the safety and regulatory issues it raises."

Also Friday, a group representing the AFL-CIO, Teamsters and other unions, plus researchers from numerous medical schools, urged the Labor Department to regulate workers' exposure to diacetyl. House legislation that would require new guidelines is backed by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, a key trade group, they noted.

The trade association's Web site says it is concerned about possible risks connected to diacetyl, adding that the latest information "does not suggest a risk from eating" microwave popcorn. However, inhaling steam from "several bags of heavily butter-flavored microwave popcorn each day" could be hazardous, the flavor-extract trade group says.


Last Mod: 08 Eylül 2007, 12:42
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