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
- 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.