If you or a loved one have been exposed to Diacetyl you may be entitled to compensation. Settlements for victims and their families have already been paid. If you think you may have a case do not delay. Fill out the Free Case Evaluation form and get started today.
Diacetyl is a substance that has been used for years as a food additive, most prominently for popcorn to provide an artificial butter flavor. It came under scrutiny at least ten years ago, as stories began to emerge about workers in popcorn production facilities coming down with a respiratory illness.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted extensive research and concluded based on the evidence they gathered that there was a link between working in a popcorn plant and lung afflictions. Specifically, the evidence showed that many workers who were exposed to vapors from diacetyl had developed a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, also known today as “popcorn worker’s lung.”
Sixteen workers at Gilster-Mary Lee popcorn plant in Jasper, Missouri had developed lung problems and at least seven had developed popcorn worker’s lung. In 2000 NIOSH issued recommendations to the plant about protecting their employees. In 2003 they sent out a general alert to about 4,000 businesses that might be using diacetyl regarding its hazards.
Bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare, permanent and non-reversible condition impacting the lungs in which small airway passages (bronchioles) are obstructed with tissue that forms trying to rid the body of a foreign substance. Airway passages are partially closed, or obliterated, by these tissue formations. Standard lung capacity is normally around 80% lung usage; it is reduced to 16% – 21% by bronchiolitis obliterans. The disease is extremely debilitating and can be fatal.
In July of 2006 the United Food and Commercial Workers along with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters petitioned both the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and California’s state OSHA to take protective measures for workers using diacetyl and other hazardous flavoring chemicals. The issue was kicked around by OSHA, the FDA and legislators in both California and Washington for months: OSHA issued a warning notice in April of 2007 and Congress finally passed a bill on the matter in September of 2007.
In March of 2004 a Missouri law firm obtained a $20 million settlement against a diacetyl manufacturer on behalf of a former popcorn factory worker with the disease. By the end of 2005 at least twenty additional diacetyl suits had been settled and $53 million in liability damages had been awarded to plaintiffs with popcorn lung disease. One known heavy consumer of buttered microwave popcorn had been diagnosed with the disease; he sued the supermarket chain where he bought his food. By September of 2007 Jolly Time and other popcorn makers were removing diacetyl from their products.
Today over $100 million in settlements have been awarded in diacetyl lawsuits. There are many cases still active, and affected individuals are still filing complaints for this relatively recently disclosed industrial hazard.
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