NY Woman Sues ConAgra Over Popcorn Lung

Lawsuits continue on behalf of people sickened with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/popcorn_workers_lung">Popcorn Lung, a dangerous disorder linked to a chemical involved in the manufacture of microwave popcorn and other butter-flavored foods. Since the link between biacetyl (diacetyl) and Popcorn Lung was established, hundreds of stricken snack industry workers, some consumers, and residents living near plants in which the chemical is used, have filed lawsuits against flavorings manufacturers.

The butter flavorings contain a chemical called diacetyl, which has been linked to the very dangerous, and sometimes fatal, lung disease commonly referred to as Popcorn Lung and clinically known as bronchiolitis obliterans.

Now, The Daily News is reporting that a Queens, New York woman is suing ConAgra, a huge food manufacturer, alleging she developed Popcorn Lung from inhaling microwave popcorn fumes. Agnes Mercado claims she ate the snack at least twice daily for 16 years, wrote the Daily News. Several biacetyl manufacturers have also been named in the case that was just filed in Queens Supreme Court.

In Ms. Mercado’s case, she has been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans—commonly referred to as Popcorn Lung—an irreversible lung disease and will ultimately require organ transplant, said the Daily News. “I’ve been eating popcorn many years, but now I wish I hadn’t. It’s made me very sick,” she told The Daily News…. I was eating two or three bags of popcorn a day. I didn’t know it would destroy my lungs,” she added.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is a potentially life-threatening, irreversible ailment, for which the only cure is a lung transplant. Popcorn Lung inflames the bronchioles—small lung airways—causing scarring and “obliterating” appropriate airflow.

Ms. Mercado learned last month she has bronchiolitis obliterans and said she ate Act II Lite popcorn daily from 1991 to 2007, said The Daily News. She is now confined to a desk job and must carry an oxygen tank at all times, The Daily News added.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was reviewing the link between long-term exposure to biacetyl and lung disease, explained The Daily News.

As of earlier this year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) identified 117 plant workers who were diagnosed with abnormal lung conditions in 2002; however, hundreds more may have been subjected to the dangerous chemical, said the Joplin Globe previously. Over 300 lawsuits filed have been nationwide and over 100 cases have been settled; cases included those working with popcorn and flavoring, those living near plants in which the flavorings are used, and consumers of microwave popcorn, wrote the Joplin Globe, which noted that five consumers—at least—have reported being diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans,

Some of the larger microwave popcorn manufacturers, such as ConAgra, have stopped using diacetyl; however, the chemical continues to be used in thousands of products, including microwave popcorn, frozen foods, cake mixes, and butter-flavored cooking oils. Unfortunately, the chemical is not often listed on ingredient labels, so there is no way for consumers to protect themselves from exposure.

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