Popcorn Company Introduces Diacetyl-Free Formulation

Indianapolis-based Weaver Popcorn Co. Inc. says it is the first company to make microwave popcorn that eliminates the controversial flavoring ingredient diacetyl. The company says in a press release that its brand of popcorn with a new diacetyl-free flavor formulation will begin appearing on store shelves this week.

Diacetyl, which in recent years has come under increased scrutiny, is used in butter flavorings found in many other brands of microwave popcorn, pastries, cake mixes, flour, cookies, crackers, frozen foods, potato chips, and candy, the company says. California is considering a bill to ban its use in the state by 2010. Connecticut state representative Rosa Delauro has asked the FDA to consider a similar ban. Although diacetyl has long been considered safe for use in consumer food products, the flavoring has been cited as a possible source of injury to certain employees of food companies who may have inhaled large dosages of it while mixing it under unsafe conditions and developing bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and serious disease of the lungs, sometimes called "Popcorn Worker's Lung," for which there is no cure.

"We follow strict safety guidelines in manufacturing our products, so we've had no incidents among our associates related to diacetyl exposure," said Weaver Popcorn President Mike Weaver. "However, we know consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about this issue, so we've taken it out of our flavorings. It was a challenge to eliminate diacetyl from our flavorings and still maintain the great buttery taste that consumers love, but we've done it."

Consumer research substantiates that the new flavoring features the same great buttery taste that consumers love, the company adds. Weaver Popcorn distributes its products in more than 90 countries.

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