The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 5, 2007

<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/new.gif" border=0> 3:19 p.m. Popcorn companies back away from potentially dangerous flavoring

The makers of several major popcorn brands announced they would no longer use a flavoring chemical linked to lung disease.

Earlier this week, the Weaver Popcorn Company announced it would no longer use diacetyl to flavor its Pop Weaver brand popcorn.

ConAgra Foods, Inc., the nation’s largest popcorn manufacturer, followed suit Wednesday. Its Orville Redenbacher and Act II brands will also use a substitute.

One company that hasn’t yet switched is the Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation, which owns a popcorn manufacturing plant in Jasper.

Tom Welge, vice president of sales for the company, said the company may eliminate the ingredient in the future, but did not say when.

“There is a general trend we have observed in the industry moving toward those types of flavors,” Welge said. “If the industry moves that way, we’ll certainly follow.”

Former employees and nearby residents are suing makers of diacetyl used in the Jasper plant, alleging the chemical caused a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterates, or popcorn lung.

Their attorney, Ken McClain, said the events should give further incentive for manufacturers to stop using the chemical.

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