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Monday, January 07, 2008

Artificial butter poses risk for restaurant workers, study finds

A study commissioned by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has found that the same chemical that has damaged and destroyed the lungs of hundreds of popcorn and food-flavoring plant workers could pose the same risks to professional cooks who use butter substitutes.

Many butter substitutes release vapor from a chemical called diacetyl, which has been linked to a potentally fatal respiratory disease. The presence of the chemical in butter substitutes was publicized last September when it was linked to the lung ailments suffered by a man who consumed microwaved popcorn on a daily basis.

Popcorn manufacturers are removing the chemical from their products, and new formulations of PAM will also be made without it. Diacetyl is also used in small amounts to preserve unsalted butter, which is not necessary for salted butter. According to the P-I study, the amount of the substance in butter and butter substitutes ranged from seven to 16 parts per million in real butter to 1,062 ppm to 1,125 ppm for popcorn popping oil. A cooking spray of the type used by home cooks contained 164 ppm, and butter-flavored cooking oils used by professional cooks ranged from 23 ppm to 234 ppm.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:48 AM


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