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Man Wins $7 Million In Suit Claiming Microwave Popcorn Caused Lung Disease

A federal court has awarded a Denver man $7.2 million in a lawsuit he filed against a popcorn maker and a grocery store for selling him microwaved popcorn that made him sick.

According to ABC News, furniture salesman Wayne Watson developed respiratory problems known as "popcorn lung" in 2007 after eating about two bags of popcorn every day for 10 years. "I probably look like a fairly healthy guy, but I only have, on a good day, about 53 percent lung capacity," Watson tells ABC.

The defendants in the case were Glister-Mary Lee, which makes popcorn, Kroger and its subsidiary, Dillon Cos. They had argued that Watson's work with carpet cleaning chemicals caused his illness.

"At this time we intend to file an appeal of the decision," Kelli McGannon, a spokeswoman for King Soopers, which is owned by Dillon Cos., a subsidiary of Kroger, tells the Denver Post.

Chester, Ill.-based Glister-Mary Lee executives issued a statement to a local TV station that it was evaluating "next steps."

In fact, many companies have been evaluating their "next steps" regarding diacetyl, a chemical used to create that unique dairy flavor — without actually using any dairy — in butter-flavored microwave popcorn and other snacks.

The lung problems described by Watson are relatively rare and have generally been limited to workers in the plants who handle the chemical — but documented case are severe, according to a briefing paper by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And many manufacturers are phasing diacetyl out for these reasons.

Workers' unions have been calling for an end to its use in food products for years, and a recent study even linked the chemical to an abnormal brain protein associated with Alzheimer's.

However, it's not really known how much exposure to diacetyl is safe. "OSHA does not have permissible exposure limits (PELs) for most flavoring substances, including diacetyl and acetoin [a substitute of diacetyl]," the paper notes.

Stay tuned for more on the science of food additives from us.

Meanwhile, CNBC predicts the recent verdict will spark a rash of future lawsuits.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Shante, He Stays: RuPaul Reflects On Decades Of Drag — And 2 Emmy Nominations

RuPaul is the most recognizable drag queen in America. His hit show, RuPaul's Drag Race is up for two Emmy Awards as it begins filming its ninth season. But drag, he says, will never be mainstream.
NPR

Food World Rallies For Quake-Hit Amatrice, Home Of Famous Pasta Dish

In Italy and the U.S., restaurants are pledging to use sales of Amatrice's signature dish, spaghetti all' amatriciana, to raise funds for the Italian town devastated by Wednesday's earthquake.
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Friday News Roundup - International

Italy searches for survivors after a devastating earthquake. Turkey escalates its role in the fight against ISIS. And Colombia and the FARC rebels sign a peace treaty ending a half-century-long guerrilla war. A panel of journalists joins guest host Derek McGinty for analysis of the week's top international news stories.

NPR

WhatsApp Will Start Sharing Data, Including Phone Numbers, With Facebook

It will also test new ways for businesses to communicate with users on the app. The privacy policy changes mark the long-expected move by Facebook to begin making money from the free app.

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