Concerns on diacetyl grow in EU

by Andrew Schneider on February 20, 2008

Yorkshire England factory worker Martin Muir, 38, has the lungs of an 80-year-old man after just three years of working with diacetyl butter flavoring. British and EU government officials say it’s difficult to get manufacturers using the lung-destroying chemicals to admit to their use, according
to a detailed and lengthy story in the UK’s Hazard Magazine.


Martin Muir Photo from Hazard magazine

Information from the UK’s official safety watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive, is equally sketchy, says the the worker safety publication reported. Spokesperson Ren� McTaggart said HSE diacetyl is widely used in food products in the UK, but could not identify either the products or workplaces. The spokesman told Safety Issues, “we were not able to find anyone willing to own up to using it as I suspect they feared bad publicity resulting in the public considering the substance a risk to food safety rather than a risk to workers.”

Hazards says Muir works for Swiss multinational Firmenich, one of the world’s largest companies in the fragrance and favor industry. It has nine factories in the U.S. The firm, according to Hazard magazine, produces flavorings for major firms including Unilever, Knorr, Walkers Crisps, McDonald’s and Burger King.

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