Clearly not responding to my post from yesterday — but rather to steady pressure from the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy and other groups — ConAgra announced it would stop using diacetyl in its Orville Redenbacher and Act II microwave popcorn brands.
Diacetyl, a fake butter flavoring, has been known for years to cause severe lung damage among food-industry workers who inhale it in vapor form. New evidence suggests that it also harms consumers.
The question is, why did the food-processing giant wait so long to pull diacetyl?
According to the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy, the EPA began a comprehensive study on the risks of diacetyl exposure back in 2003, and still refuses to release the results to the public. But the EPA has, as I explained in yesterday’s post, released the study to industry players — blatantly privileging private interests over the public interest.
After a FOIA request, the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy recently received documents [PDF] suggesting that ConAgra itself performed a diacetyl study back in 2004, even coming up with a "Consumer Exposure Risk Index to address the potential health concerns" posed by diacetyl fumes. (I suppose workers, whose exposure to the noxious fumes far exceeds that of consumers, weren’t worthy of their own "Exposure Risk Index.")
This certainly seems like a case of government-supported corporate malfeasance — one that has ruined lives. Here’s hoping that all offending parties pay dearly in court.