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Can food flavorings cause a workplace illness?

Nature provides Connecticut residents with a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh meat and dairy products can be purchased from local markets as well as a variety of other products that come in boxes, bags and cans. While health experts battle over what types of diets and food plans are the healthiest for humans many agree that eating whole, natural foods is a better option that relying on processed products.

This is in part because processed products do not always resemble the natural food from which they were derived and can contain additives that are not necessarily healthy for those who consume them. In some cases, food additives such as food flavorings can be so damaging in the food processing process that they can cause food industry workers to suffer work-related illnesses.

One food additive that has been found to cause harm to food industry workers is diacetyl. Diacetyl is used often by microwave popcorn manufacturers to give their popped corn a buttery flavor. While the substance is often enjoyable to those who eat it can cause workers who work around it and breathe it in to suffer a lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans.

Bronchiolitis obliterans makes it hard for a worker to breathe because it fixes the small airways of the lungs and causes the affected individual to struggle for air. The condition generally will not get better when a worker is away from their job for a period of time and can be debilitating.

There are many steps that employers can take to reduce risks to their employees of they must work around diacetyl or other food flavorings or additives that can cause them harm. Those important changes in the work environment may prevent their employees from developing harmful and sometimes chronic workplace illnesses that can rob them of their health and their ability to perform their work-related tasks.

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