Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Both The Pump Handle and OSHA Underground had short posts today on our withdrawal of the ANPR (Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) for diacetyl. Neither really came out and said if this was a good thing or a bad thing, but I think it's a good thing.

First, NIOSH has been unable to state with absolutely conviction that bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung) is caused by diacetyl. The evidence is certainly leading us that way, but what if the evidence is misleading? What if it's a different chemical? What if we're dealing with a true synergistic effect and diacetyl acts more like a catalyst and there is no safe level for diacetyl (food flavoring are such complex chemical mixtures that I think this is a very real possibility)? Remember that OSHA does not have the statutory authority to ban the use of any chemical, which means we have to set an exposure limit, but at what level, when we're not even sure what chemical is causing the problem, much less what a safe level is?

Second, from what I've heard (I do not have confirmation of this), the flavoring manufacturers have begun to remove diacetyl from their products. How much sense does it make to promulgate a standard if no one is exposed any more?

The problem we're left with is what do we do now, after all people are still being exposed to the hazard. If the manufactures do remove diacetyl from flavorings then the problem takes care of itself. If FDA gets involved and bans diacetyl from flavoring, the problem takes care of itself.

In the interim we have the National Emphasis Program on flavorings, which is the only solution I see short term. But what happens if neither the industry nor FDA act and remove diacetyl? I guess we're back to rulemaking and hoping that the science better defines the problem. Not very satisfying I know, but what else can we do?


  1. Just in case you want the Federal Register notice . . .


    Occupational Safety and Health Administration

    29 CFR Part 1910

    [Docket No. OSHA-2008-0046]

    RIN 1218-AC33

    Occupational Exposure to Diacetyl and Food Flavorings Containing Diacetyl

    AGENCY: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Department of Labor.

    ACTION: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; withdrawal.

    SUMMARY: OSHA is withdrawing its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Occupational Exposure to Diacetyl and Food Flavorings Containing Diacetyl in order to facilitate convening a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel, pursuant to the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). Materials submitted prior to this withdrawal as well as any other information submitted directly to OSHA after the withdrawal will be put in the public rulemaking docket and receive equal consideration as a part of the rulemaking record. In addition, there will be several other opportunities for stakeholders to provide information and comment during the rulemaking process.

    DATES: The ANPRM on Occupational Exposure to Diacetyl and Food Flavorings Containing Diacetyl, published January 21, 2009 (74 FR 3938), is withdrawn, effective March 17, 2009.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On September 25, 2007, OSHA announced its intent to initiate rulemaking to address concerns regarding diacetyl exposure in the workplace pursuant to Section 6(b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 651, 655). The Agency hosted a stakeholder meeting on October 17, 2007, as part of its process to gather information for the rulemaking. The meeting addressed not only specific OSHA information requests, but also identified stakeholder concerns associated with developing a standard addressing occupational exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl. OSHA also announced its intent to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel, pursuant to the SBREFA, in the Department of Labor's Semiannual Regulatory Agenda (73 FR 71396, 71399, 11/24/2008).

    The SBREFA requires that, prior to publication of any proposed rule that has a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, OSHA convene a SBAR Panel to determine the impacts of such a rule on small businesses and the ways those impacts can be reduced, consistent with the Agency's statutory requirements.

    I found this information at http://www.CyberRegs.com

  2. Popcorn makers have taken diacetyl out of popcorn which protects popcorn workers and (more important for popcorn makers) consumers. Diacetyl is used in a number of other food product, however, and those workers are still at risk.