It was big news in the mainstream media this week with the announcement that one of the most popular vape companies is restricting access to flavored vape juice until suppliers can ensure that minors cannot gain access to the products. This announcement reignited interest in the fact that the food flavoring additive Diacetyl, still used in some microwave popcorn, and present in a wide variety of processed foods, is also used in some flavored vape juices.*
Now to be clear, there is no definitive scientific evidence linking vaping of ‘diacetyl’ to health problems. [“Right now, according to the non-profit Cancer Research UK, there’s still “no good evidence” that vaping causes popcorn lung and there have been no reported cases of popcorn lung in e-cigarette users. A 2017 paper in the journal Toxicology also said that, so far, there are no reported cases of the condition from flavored e-cigarettes.” (source)] And there are no scientific studies testing the effects of vaping organic-only products.
However, there is evidence of some very serious health outcomes for people who work with the chemical ‘diacetyl’ if they inhale it. Back in 2000 a group of workers at a microwave popcorn factory who inhaled the synthetic butter flavor chemical ‘diacetyl’ contracted a serious health condition since nicknamed, “popcorn lung.” More specifically, the workers who breathed in ‘diacetyl’ developed a condition called, Bronchiolitis obliterans (BO) that affects the bronchioles, which are the lung’s smallest airways. It has been designated as “a serious lung disease that is irreversible.”
For those who want to reduce the risk of putting the chemical ‘diacetyl’ into their bodies whether it is via vaping, breathing in the fumes from microwave popcorn–or via the many highly processed foods in which it is currently present–the key is to go organic whenever possible. And when going organic is not possible, avoid highly processed foods (and commercially-produced flavored vape juice), always read the ingredients labels (where they exist) and just say “no” to this food additive.
*While more research is needed, a 2015 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives tested the vapor of 51 flavored e-cigarettes and detected diacetyl in 39 of them. (source)
Diacetyl is a food flavoring additive responsible for “buttery” flavoring such as found in microwave popcorn.
Scientific studies have linked Diacetyl to serious health outcomes including neurotoxicity and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Diacetyl derivatives may contain sulfites (as adducts) which may be unlabeled and can be problematic for those individuals with sulfite sensitivities such as people with asthma.
© From our book, The Food Hacker’s Handbook