One Large Popcorn, Hold the Diacetyl; OSHA Launches NEP to Address Hazards

OSHA has recently announced that it is initiating a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to address the hazards and control measures associated with working in the microwave popcorn industry where butter flavorings containing diacetyl are used. The NEP applies to all workplaces where butter-flavored microwave popcorn is being manufactured.

"We recognize that there are potential occupational health hazards associated with butter flavorings containing diacetyl," said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "Under this program, OSHA will target inspection resources to those workplaces where we anticipate the highest employee exposures to these hazards."

In January 2006, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released an investigative report on a microwave popcorn production facility. Several employees from this facility were diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans--a severe obstructive lung disease. Following a number of lung function tests and air sampling, NIOSH determined that inhalation exposure to butter flavoring chemicals is a risk for occupational lung disease.

OSHA's National Emphasis Program will provide direction on inspection targeting and procedures, methods of controlling the hazard and compliance assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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