Bell offers butter flavor alternative to diacetyl

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bronchiolitis obliterans

Bell Flavors and Fragrances has responded to concerns over the use
of diacetyl in popcorn by developing butter flavors that are free
from the additive.

The company claims its replacers provide the same fatty, creamy mouth feel that diacetyl does, and can be used in popcorn, cookie and bakery applications.

Bell's butter flavors are based on chemicals already used by Bell with FEMA GRAS approval, and come in six forms.

There are liquid forms, both water soluble and oil soluble, and a dry form, with natural and artificial alternatives.

"Everybody always talks about natural products because of the strong consumer demand for them," said Simon Poppelsdorf, VP of Bell Flavor's R&D division.

"However, demand continues for artificial chemicals because these are substantially cheaper."

Bell's flavors can be applied in the same way as diacetyl.

Diacetyl, an artificial butter flavoring used in popcorn, pastries, frozen foods and candies, has been repeatedly linked to the debilitating lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), otherwise known as 'popcorn lung', in workers at popcorn plants.

Fears were heightened further in August last year when a doctor in Denver reported that the disease may also affect consumers.

The increased concerns and flurry of activity surrounding these, including a string of lawsuits, have resulted in several food companies, including popcorn giants ConAgra and PopWeaver, removing diacetyl from popcorn flavorings.

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) recommends that all manufacturers do the same, creating an opportunity for flavor manufacturers like Bell to come up with innovative alternatives.

Bell is not alone.

Last October, flavor firm Wild reported seeing a surge in interest for its diacetyl-free butter flavors, following rekindled concerns surrounding the safety of the ingredient.

In September last year, a bill was passed in America that limits worker exposure to diacetyl over an interim period of two years, during which time the Occupational Safety and Health Administration can research the chemical and permanent regulations will be put into place.

The issue over diacetyl rose to the fore in 2000 when the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigated a Missouri popcorn plant and found that a rare lung disease occurring in eight workers was probably a result of the fumes from the chemical flavoring.

According to NIOSH documents, about 200 workers have since been identified as being made sick with 'Popcorn Workers Lung', and at least three died from the disease.

The US media has recorded a total of $100m in jury awards and settlements, with one injured worker receiving a $20m verdict.

Related topics Ingredients

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