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Safety Data Sheets for bulk liquid flavorings may be incomplete, study shows

Coffee processing

Photo: RyanJLane/iStockphoto

Morgantown, WV — Two potentially hazardous chemicals are missing from the Safety Data Sheets for bulk liquid flavorings, findings from a recent NIOSH Respiratory Health Division study show.

Researchers analyzed samples of 26 liquid flavorings from a pair of U.S. coffee roasting and packing facilities, looking for any of 20 volatile organic chemicals. Those found in the flavorings then were compared with the ingredient list on the SDSs.

None of the SDSs listed diacetyl despite its presence in 21 of the 26 samples. Another chemical, 2,3-pentanedione, was present in 15 of the samples but not listed on their SDSs.

The chemicals are considered safe for ingestion but can cause respiratory problems in workers. Previous research has linked diacetyl to obliterative bronchiolitis, a “debilitating lung disease.”

The chemicals may be part of “a proprietary mixture deemed a trade secret, or may not be required to be listed if they are present at [less than] 1% composition,” the study states.

The researchers recommend that employers and workers at facilities using flavorings remain aware of the potential hazards even though the chemicals might not be listed on the SDS.


“A precautionary approach is warranted when working with flavorings, including exposure monitoring and effective exposure control strategies such as containment and local exhaust ventilation,” the researchers said.

The study was published online Nov. 8 in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health.

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