Diacetyl legislation moves forward

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 1, 2007

Concerns about diacetyl, a butter flavoring agent, were raised when two flavor-manufacturer workers in California were diagnosed with a lung disease called bronchiolitis obliternas.   In response to these cases the California legislature is considering two bills on diacetyl.  One would direct the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to develop regulations (AB 514, Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View).  The other would ban the production and distribution of products containing diacetyl (SB 456, Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto).  Both bills have passed Appropriations Committees and are moving to their respective floors for a vote.

Discussions regarding the production of diacetyl and the use of it in consumer products have been ongoing both on the national and state level.  Most recently, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal OSHA) has been working closely with the 28 flavoring manufacturing companies in California to determine the need for regulations.  After several meetings with an advisory committee of stakeholders, Cal OSHA concluded that they would split the rulemaking process, first into flavor manufacturing and then into food manufacturing. Cal OSHA expects to have regulations for flavor manufacturing within 60 days to present to the Standards Board.

Although Cal OSHA is moving forward on regulations, there continues to be legislative pressure to regulate or completely ban the use of diacetyl in consumer products.  However, there is still no evidence that workers adding diacetyl to products are exposed in a way that would cause them to develop bronchiolitis obliternas.  Members of Cal OSHA believe that more information is needed and would like to work with volunteer companies to conduct their own testing and evaluation of the use of diacetyl in the workplace. 

CMTA continues to be supportive of the regulatory process and will continue to participate in the Flavoring Advisory Committee.  Both AB 514 and SB 456 are unnecessary because the Standard’s Board is evaluating science-based information to determine the need for regulation.  SB 456 which bans the use of diacetyl in products could result in the closure of several plants in California.  Cal OSHA is working diligently to address everyone’s concerns and the proposed legislation is counterproductive to the regulatory process.

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