An article published last week in the Indianapolis Star unveiled documents from IOSHA, which showed inspectors had found workers at the flavor company’s Indianapolis-based plant were exposed to hydrogen sulfide and diacetyl at levels considered to be harmful to health.
Diacetyl is a butter flavoring that has been linked to a life-threatening lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans in factory workers who inhale the substance. According to an IOSHA inspection document, workers were exposed to more than 400 times the level of diacetyl generally recognized as safe, and to more than ten times the level of hydrogen sulfide considered to pose no threat to health, and twice the level considered to pose an immediate danger to health.
Sensient was given until September 17, 2012 to abate all safety violations reported by inspectors, and the company claims that it has already addressed many of the issues identified.
A Sensient spokesperson said in a statement: “The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) recently completed an inspection of the Sensient Indianapolis flavors plant. Sensient has already implemented changes addressing many of the items identified by IOSHA. We continue to work with them to resolve any remaining issues. Sensient has always had a long standing commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe working environment for all its employees.”
The Indianapolis Star later reported that Starbucks had decided to cancel future business with Sensient Flavors, while The Campbell Soup Company said it was currently investigating the worker safety allegations.
Neither company returned calls for comment from FoodNavigator-USA prior to publication.