Wild promotes diacetyl-free flavors on industry concerns

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Bronchiolitis obliterans

Flavor firm Wild reports seeing a surge in interest for its
diacetyl-free butter flavors, following rekindled concerns in
recent months surrounding the safety of the ingredient.

The group, which originally launched its flavors around four years ago, said that at the time it was "probably too far ahead of the trend".​ Now, however - especially in the past month - the company said its products are generating significantly more interest, and it is using this industry need as a platform to promote the ingredients. Diacetyl, an artificial butter flavoring used in popcorn, pastries, frozen foods and candies, has been repeatedly linked to the debilitating lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome​ (BOS) in employees of popcorn plants. Fears were heightened further in August this year when a doctor in Denver reported that the disease may also affect consumers. The heightened concerns and flurry of activity surrounding these, including a string of lawsuits, have resulted in several food companies, including popcorn giants ConAgra and PopWeaver, removing diacetyl from popcorn flavorings. The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) also recommends that all manufacturers should do the same. While this provides a challenge for manufacturers of these products, it has also opened up an opportunity for ingredients makers, who, like Wild, have started highlighting diacetyl-free solutions. According to vice president of Wild's Food Strategic Business Unit Tim Truby, the company has two ingredient ranges that respond to these needs: diacetyl-free and non-added diacety (as small levels of the component could occur naturally). The flavors can be labeled as 'natural' or 'natural and artificial', depending on the usage. Truby said the main interest the company has received has come from popcorn and cracker manufactures, but the flavors could also be used in products such as side dishes and baked goods. "Diacetyl is a major component in butter flavoring. Any flavors without it will not be a dead-on match, but ours do come very very close to the original,"​ he told FoodNavigator-USA.com. "In some product applications you can get the same type of flavor and mouthfeel, in others some work may be needed, such as the addition of some ingredients." ​The concerns surrounding the ingredient last month prompted the introduction of a new house bill that called for emergency regulation to protect workers. Passed by the House of Representatives, the bill would require that all manufacturers that use the chemical, often in flavorings for popcorn and snacks, will have to take precautions, as it may cause 'popcorn lung' disease. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also said at the time that it is doing all it can to research the link between diacetyl and popcorn lung, and that will propose regulatory changes once it is confident of knowing all the facts.

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