Issue Date: October 1, 2012
Popcorn Lung Sufferer Gets $7 Million Award
A man who claims that exposure to diacetyl butter aroma from microwave popcorn made him ill was awarded $7 million in damages by a Denver federal jury. Wayne Watson, 59, claimed he developed bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as popcorn lung disease, after eating at least two bags of popcorn a day for 10 years. The rare lung disease causes shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, and ultimately death. Microwave popcorn makers stopped using diacetyl in 2006. The jury determined that Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., the microwave popcorn maker, and King Soopers supermarket, where Watson purchased the popcorn, are responsible for the award because they did not warn of the dangers of inhaling diacetyl. Watson previously settled claims against the flavor supplier, FONA International. Diacetyl suppliers including Givaudan, International Flavors & Fragrances, and Sensient Technologies have been named in or settled suits by microwave popcorn factory workers claiming harm from diacetyl exposure (C&EN, Nov. 16, 2009, page 24).
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