Courtesy of the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) from their Daily Diagnosis e-mail they send to all registered ASCP members.
Click here to see full ASCP Daily Diagnosis article.
Cliff Notes at bottom.
Popcorn additive may be linked to consumer's lung ailment, physician alleges.
In continuing coverage from a previous briefings, NBC Nightly News (9/5, Williams) reported, "A prominent lung doctor questions whether the fumes from butter flavoring could be harmful, not only to the factory workers who make the product, but also to consumers. And the government says it is investigating a condition called popcorn lung."
The UPI (9/6) adds that Dr. Cecile Rose, "director of the occupational disease clinical programs at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver said a Colorado furniture salesman, who had never smoked, had been referred to her because of an increasing shortness of breath," according to a New York Times report on Wednesday. Rose said that the man was diagnosed "with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs usually caused by chronic exposure to bacteria, mold or dust." Further investigation revealed that the man "had eaten microwave popcorn at least twice a day for more than 10 years and he liked it so much he opened the bag with the steam still coming out so he could inhale the smell." After Rose ordered him to cease popcorn eating, in "six months his lung function improved slightly."
The AP (9/6, Kabel) notes that the patient in question, 53-year-old Wayne Watson, of Centennial, Colo., also believes "his heavy consumption of popcorn caused his health problems." The AP continues, "There are no warnings from federal regulators, nor is there medical advice on how consumers should treat news of the rare, life-threatening disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as popcorn lung." And, "The popcorn flavoring contains the chemical diacetyl, which has been linked to lung damage in workers inhaling its fumes in food manufacturing plants."
According to MedPage Today (9/6, Smith), "The FDA has been studying the diacetyl issue since the first report of bronchiolitis obliterans among workers making microwave popcorn, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002." But Dr. Rose, who sent a letter about her patient on July 18 "to the FDA," and also sent "similar reports to the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration," said that "none of the governmental agencies has called to learn more, but that industry representatives were interested in the report."
WebMD (9/6, DeNoon) points out that "bronchiolitis obliterans" is "a rare disease, first seen in 1985 in workers in food-flavor factories." Since the 2002 report of popcorn factory workers with the ailment, there have been "at least three deaths and many patients [are] awaiting lung transplants." And, when "Rose took a team to [Watson's] house and tested the air while microwaving some popcorn," they found that the "levels of diacetyl were similar to those in the area of a microwave popcorn factory where workers were affected."
ConAgra, Weaver to discontinue use of diacetyl as popcorn flavoring. In a separate story, the AP (9/6) reports, "The nation's largest microwave popcorn maker, ConAgra Foods, says it will change the recipe for its Orville Redenbacher and Act II brands over the next year to remove a flavoring chemical linked to a lung ailment in popcorn plant workers." According to a company spokeswoman, "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." The announcement follows a similar one last week by "another popcorn manufacturer, Weaver Popcorn of Indianapolis, [which] said [that it] would replace the butter flavoring ingredient because of consumer concern."
Cliff Notes: Don't inhale popcorn fumes. Chronic exposure to flavor additive in fumes can/will cause lung inflammation.