Nationwide Success

Diacetyl Exposure Lawsuits

investigating diacetyl exposure & bronchiolitis obliterans cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) warns popcorn manufacturers that inhaling the fumes of flavoring chemicals like diacetyl in the workplace can cause severe lung disease for food workers in production and packaging areas. Cases of popcorn lung have been reported across the country. 

Food production plant workers around the country may have faced occupational toxins in processing and packaging areas. Plant workers may have been exposed to high dosages of diacetyl for long durations.

Depending on the specific artificial flavoring and the food production process, workers may have been exposed to hazardous flavorings like diacetyl in the form of vapors or fumes.

Studies have shown that exposure to diacetyl is linked to bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome in food production plant workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the CDC have warned companies and workers about diacetyl because of the danger of developing serious respiratory diseases.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated personal injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer product liability and workplace injury claims

What is Popcorn Lung?

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is a form of chronic lung dysfunction in which the lungs deteriorate, and cause a myriad of life-threatening symptoms. The deterioration in pulmonary function is generally irreversible and progresses despite therapy. No effective treatment has yet been established.

First recognized in the 1980s, BOS remains a pervasive illness with devastating consequences. Some causes have been identified. The most common risk factors for bronchiolitis obliterans are working conditions that expose employees to dangerous chemicals.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated workplace injury Attorney and Bronchiolitis Obliterans lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims.  


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

Diacetyl Exposure Injury

Exposure to diacetyl production appears to be responsible for causing bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome in chemical process workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the flavoring industry have warned workers about the specific chemical diacetyl because of the association between inhaling this chemical and debilitating respiratory diseases.

BOS has been termed “Popcorn Lung” because it first appeared in workers who inhaled artificial butter flavor in microwave popcorn manufacturing facilities.

The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and others have reported that exposure to diacetyl causes not only bronchiolitis obliterans, but other chronic lung diseases, such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, granulomatosus disease, emphysema, asthma and interstitial lung disease. The chemical has been removed from most consumables in the United States.

Food Production Diacetyl

In May 2000, an occupational medicine physician reported eight cases of fixed obstructive lung disease in former workers of a microwave popcorn factory. All eight had a respiratory illness resembling bronchiolitis obliterans, and had worked at the same popcorn factory in durations ranging from 8 months to 9 years.

NIOSH evaluated the factory for respiratory hazards to workers, and concluded that workers exposed to flavorings at microwave popcorn factories are at risk for developing lung diseases.

Workers at coffee processing facilities also may face the same occupational hazard. NIOSH investigators published a report in 2013 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine about a health hazard evaluation at a coffee processing facility. Five former workers at a coffee processing facility that roasted, ground, and flavored coffee developed popcorn lung.

Vaping Lung Disease

In July, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a directive to reduce tobacco-related disease with a new plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve to better protect children. The approach places nicotine at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts.

The FDA notes that e-cig and vaping devices can be helpful to the effort. However, a 2015 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found diacetyl, a flavoring compound considered a respiratory hazard, was present in more than 75 percent of flavored electronic cigarettes and vaping liquids tested by researchers.

Several years ago, workers in a microwave popcorn factory were sickened by breathing in diacetyl, the popular flavoring chemical in popcorn and snack products. Studies have linked diacetyl to deaths and hundreds of cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and irreversible lung disease.

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is a form of chronic lung dysfunction in which the lungs deteriorate, and cause a myriad of severe symptoms. The deterioration in pulmonary function generally progresses despite therapy. No effective treatment has yet been established.

Major popcorn manufacturers have since removed diacetyl from certain products, but many people are still being exposed to diacetyl through e-cig vapor.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated product liability attorney and personal injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in vaping injury lawsuits and severe respiratory illness cases.

Consumer Popcorn Lung

According to the EPA, popping microwave butter-flavor popcorn releases diacetyl into the air along with other potentially toxic chemicals. The study found that 80 percent of the chemical fumes escaped from a bag of microwave popcorn within the first seconds of opening.

Diacetyl has sickened hundreds of microwave popcorn plant workers, who have in turn developed Popcorn Lung (popcorn lung) which has killed at least three popcorn factory workers. Initial symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath.

In addition, at least one consumer fell ill from consuming popcorn and later filed a successful lawsuit against the manufacturers of the product. The Colorado man reportedly ate two bags of popcorn a day for more than 10 years and was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome.

Popcorn Lung Lawsuits

In 2009, a federal jury in Iowa awarded $7.5 million to a former worker in a microwavable popcorn facility. The worker’s attorneys said the flavoring ingredients caused his health problems.

A number of consumers have sued other microwave popcorn manufacturers, claiming chemicals in the popcorn flavoring lead to lung disease. A Denver man, for example, won a $7.2 million verdict against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc., after developing BOS after claiming he consumed microwavable popcorn for years.

The man and his lawyers sued the popcorn maker and supermarkets, claiming the companies never warned consumers that diacetyl was dangerous.

Any former worker, or consumer of products that contains these dangerous chemicals may have a claim against a company for injury and damage as a result of exposure. Contact an experienced popcorn lung lawyer for legal assistance.

American Popcorn Lawsuits

Former and current employees of American Pop Corn Company production plants may be at risk of developing a serious lung disease due to artificial flavorings that were commonly used by most popcorn companies, including American Pop Corn.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is known to affect employees involved in production and packaging processes in pop corn facilities like American Pop Corn in Sioux City, Iowa. Medical Experts have identified diacetyl as a dangerous toxin, causing illnesses in many popcorn production workers.

However, health agencies and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have not determined a safe amount or duration of exposure. As a result, many food and beverage companies have stopped using diacetyl as a flavoring agent.

The health effects may have already taken hold in many former workers at American Pop Corn Company, and the company may be held responsible for diacetyl-related illnesses and diseases.

American Pop Corn employees who faced diacetyl flavoring exposure may experience eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation. There is some medical evidence that occupational asthma may be associated with workplace exposure to certain flavorings like diacetyl.

Studies have shown an association with occupational exposure to certain flavorings and the development of bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease characterized by fixed airways obstruction.

Almost all of the known cases of “popcorn lung” have occurred in workers exposed to diacetyl flavorings in production and packaging plants. But consumers may also be exposed to food additive toxins. The following American Pop Corn Brands had diacetyl flavoring in the past:

  • Jolly Time
  • Blast O’ Butter
  • Butterlicious
  • Better Butter
  • White and Buttery
  • Crispy ‘n White
  • KettleMania
  • The Big Cheez
  • Mallow Magic
  • Sassy Salsa

Weaver Popcorn Lawsuits

Weaver Popcorn Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana recently stopped using diacetyl in its artificial butter flavoring because of pending lawsuits from consumers and food production workers around the country who claim the chemical is toxic.

Exposure can cause serious health problems like popcorn lung and other respiratory diseases including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, granulomatosus disease, emphysema, asthma and interstitial lung disease.

Workers at Weaver Popcorn Co. around the production and packaging areas where diacetyl was present may have been exposed to toxic fumes on a daily basis and developed a lung disease.

Affected workers may notice a gradual reduction of cough years after they are free from flavoring vapors, but abnormalities in lung function can persist. Medical attention is crucial, and following treatment legal action may be sought to investigate the cause of the illness.

Conagra Popcorn Lung

Any ConAgra employee working with artificial flavorings at the workplace may risk heavy exposure to toxins. Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome may initially cause a mild dry cough and develop into a continual shortness of breath as soon as two weeks after the first heavy exposure.

Microwave popcorn plant and flavored coffee plant workers have developed obstructive lung diseases such as a type of bronchiolitis called constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans. In bronchiolitis obliterans, the airways in the lungs become scarred and constricted, and block the movement of air.

The primary respiratory symptoms experienced by workers affected by obliterative bronchiolitis include dry coughing, wheezing, and a continual shortness of breath on exertion.

The severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe, and typically do not improve when a worker goes home at the end of the workday. These symptoms are gradual and progressive, though severe symptoms can occur suddenly. Some workers may experience a fever, sweating, and sudden weight loss.

Workers should seek medical evaluation if they have persistent cough, shortness of breath on exertion, frequent symptoms of eye, nose, throat, or skin irritation, or general decline in lung function. Affected workers may notice a gradual reduction of cough years after they are free from flavoring vapors, but abnormalities in lung function tests usually persist.

Several workers with related lung disease have been placed on lung transplant waiting lists. Medical attention is crucial, and following treatment legal action may be sought to investigate the cause of the illness.

General Mills & Diamond Food Lung Injury

Employees of General Mills or Diamond Food who have worked with artificial flavorings at the workplace may have faced heavy exposure to known toxins.

General Mills and Diamond Food workers that handled and packed Pop Secret popcorn products may have risked permanent lung injuries and illnesses, including popcorn lung syndrome, known as “popcorn lung disease” in the food production industry.

Artificial flavorings such as diacetyl were regularly used by diamond foods and general mills in popcorn mixtures until relatively recently. Pop Secret was previously manufactured by General Mills and then was purchased by the Diamond Foods Company in 2008—now under the ownership of Snyder’s-Lance.

Bronchiolitis obliterans in particular may initially cause a persistent cough and develop into a progressive shortness of breath soon after the first exposure on the job.

The lung disease is called “Popcorn Lung” by researchers because it was discovered in clusters of workers who inhaled artificial flavorings like diacetyl in popcorn facilities like General Mills and Diamond Food.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has warned that long-term exposure to diacetyl may cause popcorn lung disease and other chronic lung diseases like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, granulomatosus disease, emphysema, and asthma.

Symptoms of Popcorn Lung Disease

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (popcorn lung disease) usually presents with a serious cough and regular shortness of breath as soon as two weeks after diacetyl exposure. Specific symptoms of diacetyl-related lung diseases may include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Pale or bluish appearance to the skin
  • Crackling or rattling sounds in the lungs
  • Fatigue
  • Chest that appears sunken while breathing
  • Quickened breathing at rest
  • Whooping cough
photo of attorney Joe Lyon reviewing popcorn lung cases
A Voice for Those who have suffered 

Why are these cases important?

Toxic exposure cases help empower employees to fight for their right to be protected, satisfactorily informed, and to stay safe. They also bring awareness to challenge and higher the expectations of companies who are not serving their employees justly.


Our Victories

The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law. 


(Hamilton County, Ohio): Confidential Settlement. Lead Counsel in a case that involved secondary lead exposure to two children. Their father worked at a local recycling plant that routinely recycled computer equipment. The company violated numerous OSHA regulations related to providing safety equipment and clothing to prevent lead particles from being transferred home. As a result, the Plaintiffs father transferred lead dust to his children who then suffered lead poisoning. The case was covered extensively by the Cincinnati news media and referenced in peer-reviewed medical literature. The settlement will provide educational needs to the children who suffered neurological injuries due the exposure.