OSHA Revises NEP on Microwave Popcorn (Diacetyl / DAPORS)


This morning, OSHA issued a press release stating that it has revised the NEP onDiacetyl in Microwave Popcorn to include other flavorings and substitutes. This term (Diacetyl And Possibly Other Related Substitutes), DAPORS, was coined by ACOEM. This comes on the heels of OSHA releasing a new SHIB on Diacetyl and Subsititutes (DAPORS) last October and the announcement of the expanded rulemaking effort on Diacetyl and Food Flavorings. It was well known among insiders that a revised NEP, in some form, would likely be forthcoming. Well, this is it.

I am in the process now of reading through the OSHA NEP and press release in greater detail. The first thing that jumped out at me was this was specifically targeted for the Microwave Popcorn industry and not the food flavoring industry like the most recent NEP (which is still in effect, by the way).

WHY DIDN’T OSHA REVISE THE EXISTING NEP TO INCLUDE SUBSITITUTES INSTEAD OF THE EXPIRED MICROWAVE POPCORN NEP?

If Diacetyl and it’s substitutes are a hazard, and these substances are injuring workers in a multitude of industries as proclaimed in the SHIB and Rulemaking update in the Reg Agenda, and OSHA is serious about the problem … yes a lot of what-ifs … then why in the world would they take this narrow tact??? By (admittedly) first impression, this sends yet another mixed signal to the industry and stakeholder community that OSHA might be acting from the hip on this issue instead of taking a deliberate, practical, strategic approach.

In the mean time, see the press release pasted below or contact us directly for more information.

OSHA revises National Emphasis Program to focus on protecting workers from exposure to diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes

WASHINGTON – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently revised its National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Microwave Popcorn Processing Plants. The purpose of this revised NEP is to minimize or eliminate worker exposure to the hazards associated with microwave popcorn manufacturing.

Diacetyl is a chemical used to add flavor and aroma to food and other products. Some workers who breathe diacetyl on the job have become disabled or have died from severe lung disease. Some manufacturers of microwave popcorn are now using diacetyl substitutes such as 2,3-pentanedione, diacetyl trimer and acetoin among others. Recent studies have shown that 2,3-pentanedione has produced similar health effects as diacetyl, and therefore, may also cause harm to workers.

“It is alarming that workers continue to be at risk of dying from exposure to diacetyl and diacetyl substitutes,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Illnesses and death from these chemicals are preventable and this revised directive will help ensure that employers use necessary measures to protect workers from this hazard.”

OSHA’s efforts to minimize or eliminate workers’ exposure to microwave popcorn manufacturing hazards include inspection targeting, directions for controlling chemical hazards, and extensive compliance assistance. Inspections conducted under this NEP will target facilities where workers are manufacturing or processing microwave popcorn.

Currently, OSHA has permissible exposure limits (PEL) for some diacetyl substitutes, however most flavorings do not have PELs. Additionally, microwave popcorn manufacturing facilities are subject to other applicable OSHA mandatory standards including Respiratory Protection and Hazard Communication.

For more safety and health information on diacetyl and other food flavorings, visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page on Lung Disease Related to Butter Flavorings Exposure. OSHA’s Safety and Health Information Bulletin and companion Worker Alert recommend engineering and work practice controls for regulating diacetyl and diacetyl substitute exposures in the workplace.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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