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Artificial Butter Flavor In Our Foods: All About Diacetyl

Published on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 18:18

Artificial Butter flavor in our food supply is a chemical compound that imparts the buttery taste, texture and aroma to a variety of processed foods.   Diacetyl is one of the chemicals used to accomplish that buttery flavor.

In nature, diacetyl is a natural product of fermentation and can occur naturally in some alcoholic beverages.  Some chardonnay wines, for example, that have a “buttery” taste contain natural diacetyl.

Diacetyl has been in the news over the last few years as it’s been implicated in “popcorn lung”.  This is the nickname given to the respiratory disease developed by employees at microwave popcorn factories and food flavoring facilities that develop artificial butter flavor.  In 2012, research found that diacetyl was linked to Alzheimer’s disease.  Studies shows that the chemical led to increased levels of beta-amyloid clumping (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s). 

Diacetal is associated with skin and eye irritation, nose and throat irritation as well as dry cough.   While the chemical is associated more with problems due to inhalation and handling, there has been enough concern raised that many microwave popcorn manufacturers have removed the ingredient from their products.  The ingredient is still in some brands of popcorn and can be found in other product categories as well.  It is also an ingredient in artificial butter flavor.  And you’ll find that ingredient in a wide variety of products that seek to imitate the flavor of real butter.  Products including pancake syrups, frozen pancakes and waffles, cooking sprays, breads and many others contain artificial butter flavor on their ingredient lists.

Diacetyl is also used the chemical formulations of various mosquito repellents.

Visit The Rak Foundation for Nutritional Awareness for more information on how we can change the way America eats!