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Consumer Popcorn Lung Disease Lawsuit Settles

By Minara El-Rahman on December 16, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Denver man settled his popcorn lung disease lawsuit against FONA International Inc., formerly Flavors of North America Inc. The company produces the diacetyl popcorn butter flavoring in much of our microwave popcorn. 

The L.A. Times reports that Mr. Wayne Watson is reportedly the first consumer to ever suffer from popcorn lung disease.

Mr. Watson claims that he developed popcorn lung disease by eating microwaved popcorn that contained diacetyl popcorn flavoring; which is speculated to cause the disease. Diacetyl (2,3-butanedione) is a chemical that has been used to add a butter-like flavor to food products, including microwave popcorn.

Animal studies of exposure to butter flavoring vapors have shown airway injury in rats after acute inhalation of these vapors. This airway injury is known as Bronchiolitis Obliterans.

Bronchiolitis Obliterans is an rare lung disease that is identified by fixed airway obstruction. When inflammation and scarring occur in the smallest airways of the lung, it can lead to severe and disabling shortness of breath.

Typically, popcorn lung develops in workers of popcorn plants. This is the first reported case of consumer popcorn lung disease. ABC News reports that industrial hygienist Michael Van Dyke said: "In your home microwave, you're seeing similar levels [of diacetyl] to what we've seen in microwave popcorn manufacturing plants."

We wrote about how microwave popcorn makers from Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Pop Secret and Jolly Time planned to remove diacetyl popcorn flavoring from their popcorn in the Common Law blog.  

The settlement agreement requires both sides to pay for their attorneys' fees and costs. The other terms of the settlement are unknown.

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