OSHA issued a Safety and Health Bulletin (SHIB) addressed to employers and workers involved in the manufacture of “flavorings.” According to OSHA, it is important to understand that although a flavoring is considered safe to eat, it does not mean that the flavoring is also safe to breathe or handle in occupational settings.
The occurrence of severe lung disease amongst workers in workplaces where diacetyl is manufactured and used has led some manufacturers to reduce or eliminate the amount of diacetyl in some kinds of flavorings, foods, and beverages. However, there is growing concern that these diacetyl substitutes also pose health risks for workers and certain combinations of the chemical may actually increase the harm.
The principal types of flavorings that use diacetyl are:
- Dairy Flavors – butter, cheese, sour cream, egg and yogurt flavors
- Brown flavors – caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, maple or coffee flavors
- Some fruit flavors – strawberry, banana, etc.
The principal industries that use these flavorings include, but are not limited to:
- Candies, snack foods, prepared canned or frozen foods – especially with sauces, some dairy products, bakeries, animal foods, soft drinks, flavored cooking oils