Diacetyl is a byproduct of fermentation that occurs in alcoholic beverages and is used as an artificial butter flavoring. Respiratory exposure to this chemical causes asthma as well as a very rare, chronic, debilitating, and irreversible lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans. Bronchiolitis is a fixed obstructive lung disease, i.e., an obstructive lung disease that does not improve with bronchodilation. The only cure for this disease is lung transplantation.
Cases of diacetyl-induced lung disease have occurred in the flavorings industry since at least the 1980s, but the flavorings industry suppressed information about the toxic respiratory hazards of diacetyl for some two decades. It was not until 2002 that the human respiratory hazards of diacetyl began to become known to the medical community. In that year, Allen Parmet, a physician in Kansas City, Missouri, wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reporting several cases of bronchiolitis obliterans among workers exposed to diacetyl used as a butter-flavoring agent at a microwave popcorn manufacturing plant. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted an investigation and confirmed the respiratory hazards of diacetyl.
Cases of bronchiolitis obliterans have been found at two companies in Southern California – Carmi Flavors & Fragrance Company and Gold Coast Ingredients, Inc. – both located in the City of Commerce. Several of these workers are totally disabled from bronchiolitis obliterans. Some have received lung transplants and others are awaiting lung transplants. Being entirely unaware of the respiratory hazards of diacetyl, they worked with this extremely toxic chemical without any respiratory protection.
The Metzger Law Group is litigating toxic injury cases for these most unfortunate and seriously injured workers against the manufacturers and distributors of diacetyl. The Metzger Law Group is also pursuing claims for several of these workers against Chemtura Corporation, a large conglomerate chemical manufacturer that filed a petition for reorganization in bankruptcy in 2009.
Cases of bronchiolitis obliterans have also been diagnosed among a few consumers who consumed large amounts of microwave popcorn.
If you have been diagnosed with asthma or bronchiolitis obliterans and worked at a flavoring company or were otherwise exposed to diacetyl in California, please contact the Metzger Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation. If we determine that you are suffering from a lung disease resulting from diacetyl exposure, we will vigorously pursue litigation on your behalf to obtain compensation for your injuries.