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Man Sues over Microwave “Popcorn Lung” Disease, Wins

Lisa Garber
September 21st, 2012
Updated 11/01/2012 at 3:47 am
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popcorn 235x147 Man Sues over Microwave Popcorn Lung Disease, Wins

A Colorado man won $7.2 million in damages after a federal court determined that his chronic lung condition was caused by a chemical used in microwave popcorn.  The chemical in question, diacetyl, is a natural byproduct of fermentation and is added to many products—in this case popcorn—to add a buttery flavor. What the popcorn packaging never says is that many workers across the United States have been suing in courts since 2004 for the chemical’s link to an obstructive lung disease commonly known as popcorn lung.

Popcorn Lung - Numerous Cases

Wayne Watson, 59, is not the first to win suits in such seemingly bizarre cases. His attorney, Kenneth McClain, has represented many microwave popcorn and flavoring workers, and Dr. Cecile Rose—a witness in Watson’s case and a physician at National Jewish Health—had consulted with the flavorings industry and had found other workers with similar popcorn lung conditions.

Meanwhile, jurors held Glister-Mary Lee Corporation (the private-labeling manufacturer of popcorn) in Chester, Illinois liable for 80 percent of the $7,217,961 damages. Supermarket chain King Soopers and parent Kroger Co., were held liable for the remaining 20 percent. The defendants’ attorney claimed that Watson’s history of cleaning carpets with harmful chemicals was to blame for his condition, but the same cannot be said of the other popcorn lung plaintiffs currently in federal court in Iowa and state court in New York.

But aside from the chemical in the microwave popcorn, there is another health issue to consider. No one considers the implications of using a microwave, but using the device could have numerous negative effects on your health. Microwave dangers could leave your food completely void of nutritional value and even cause the food to be health-hazardous.

Diacetyl is found in many products, including but not limited to:

  • Alcohol beverages
  • Milk products
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Margarine
  • Oil-based food products

According to a University of Minnesota in Minneapolis study, diacetyl is also linked to Alzheimer’s plaque build-up by disrupting electrical and chemical signals in the brain.

Additional Sources:

Chicago Tribune

CBS News

Natural News

From around the web:

  • Les

    Popcorn is not Genetically Modified.

  • Sandi Grows


  • michael davis

    Isn't that just wonderful, guess popcorn and other such food containing this chemical are off my list of food's, what the hell has happened to food everything is poisonous now.

    • sea

      Well yes all processed foods have some form of chemicals to give them that addictive flavor (so you will buy more and eat more)and so they will have an indefinite shelf life…they will last forever!

      Best bets are whole foods, no sprays of chemicals, the body is much happier and you are too!

    • Sandi Grows

      Well, in order for the government and the pharmecutical companies to continue making money, they need you go be sick. The get you sick through the food, then they offer you medication for it instead of a cure. It's all a big joke.

    • ZaCloud

      You don't have to give up popcorn. Just get a popper and make your own, and pour real butter or herbs on top! Air poppers are the best, nothing burns and no un-popped kernels! :D

      • ZaCloud

        Although of course, good luck finding corn kernels that aren't GMO… Organic should be safe for now, and there is organic popping corn in some stores. Just has to be the untouched kind in a jar, not in microwavable bags.