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Dairy Facts 2016

IDFA Joins Food Industry Leaders to Question Proposed Diacetyl Exposure Limits

Nov 22, 2011

In written comments submitted last week to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), food industry organizations questioned proposed diacetyl exposure limits for employees within the food industry and said that both the recommended exposure limits (RELs) and the short-term exposure limits (STELs) are “overly conservative.”

IDFA joined the Grocery Manufacturers Association and five other food manufacturing associations to submit written comments on the proposed criteria for a recommended standard on occupational exposure to diacetyl. The written comments called into question the scientific basis for the criteria.  The NIOSH-developed exposure limits will be recommended to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to be used as guidance and in rulemaking.

 “The presumption of risk in the food manufacturing industry as a whole has not been supported by data on workers’ compensation claims,” the letter stated. “There is still no evidence of incidence or pattern of diacetyl-associated illness in general food manufacturing.”

Diacetyl has come under greater scrutiny over the last few years because it has been associated with a severe lung disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, found in some workers from microwave popcorn plants and in flavor and extract manufacturing facilities. OSHA and others are concerned that similar conditions may exist in other workplaces. Diacetyl poses no health risks for consumers who eat products containing it.

“The dairy industry has been operating for centuries without any unusual lung-related health issues; if there was a problem associated with the trace amounts of diacetyl found in dairy products, it would have become apparent long ago,” said Clay Detlefsen, vice president for regulatory affairs.We are concerned that any regulatory actions based on these proposed exposure limits could have a significant impact on the dairy industry, because many cultured products contain naturally occurring diacetyl and other dairy products contain trace amounts of diacetyl added as part of the flavoring. "

Read the letter here.

For more information, contact Detlefsen at or 202-220-3554.

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