Diacetyl, substitute both dangerous to workers: study

August 15, 2012

Minneapolis – Diacetyl, an artificial butter flavoring, and an ingredient used as a substitute for it may both be harmful to workers, according to two new studies.

In one study, conducted by the University of Minnesota, researchers found chronic exposure to diacetyl may contribute to protein clumping in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Diacetyl already has been linked to respiratory problems, prompting manufacturers to switch to the flavoring ingredient 2,3-pentanedione, or PD. However, a new study from NIOSH suggests PD also presents a respiratory hazard.

As part of the study, researchers compared rats exposed to air, PD and diacetyl. They found respiratory damage in rats exposed to PD and concluded PD is a respiratory hazard and can alter gene expression in rats’ brains.

The University of Minnesota study was published online June 25 in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. The NIOSH study was published online Aug. 12 in The American Journal of Pathology.