Flavored Coffee Beans & Microwave Popcorn Related to Deadly Lung Disease in Workers

A new report find s that cases of obliterative bronchiolitis in two workers are linked to a Texas coffee-processing company. Bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare and serious lung disease with no cure, except for a lung transplant. Both individuals worked at several jobs in the plant, including the “flavoring room.”

This is not the first instance of reported health issues of workers exposed to flavoring agents. Almost a decade ago, a report found that workers exposed to the flavoring agent in a microwave popcorn manufacturing plant were also diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans. The chemical they were exposed to was called, ketone.

Popcorn manufacturers quickly removed the chemical when a Denver resident developed the same disease after inhaling the agent several times a day from his favorite snack. However, some substitutes may pose similar risk of respiratory damage. A 2013 study found that workers at the microwave popcorn plants had a higher risk of respiratory disease mortality than the general population.

There is no specific federal workplace safety regulation designed to protect workers exposed to diacetyl or other flavoring agents.

Obama’s Labor Secretary Hilda Solis suggested that OSHA would move expeditiously to protect workers from this hazard.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) prepared a draft risk assessment and technical document to assist OSHA in developing a proposed rule. OSHA has not been on a fast track to address  the hazard of these flavoring agents with a new regulation.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a serious illness as a result of toxic chemical exposure, contact us today. We can help you receive the benefits you deserve.

Learn more about this topic.

Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP