OSHA Addresses Hazards of Diacetyl Used by Microwave Popcorn Manufacturers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Microwave Popcorn Processing Plants in order to reduce worker exposure to the chemical diacetyl.

Diacetyl is a chemical used to add flavor and aroma to food and other products. Some workers who breathe diacetyl on the job have become disabled or have died from severe lung disease. Recent studies show that certain diacetyl substitutes, such as 2,3-pentanedione, have produced similar health effects as diacetyl, and therefore, may also cause harm to workers.

Illnesses and death from these chemicals are preventable and this revised directive will help ensure that employers use necessary measures to protect workers from this hazard, ” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

OSHA’s efforts to reduce exposure include inspection targeting, directions for controlling chemical hazards, and extensive compliance assistance. For more safety and health information on diacetyl and other food flavorings, visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page on Lung Disease Related to Butter Flavorings Exposure.

OSHA revises National Emphasis Program to focus on protecting workers from exposure to diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes, OSHA Trade News Release, January 24, 2011

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