Wayne Watson’s love of popcorn almost turned deadly after he developed respiratory problems in 2007 known as “popcorn lung”, according to ABC news.
Watson, a Denver native, says he ate about two bags of popcorn everyday for 10 years, and developed the rare disease possibly from inhaling the artificial butter smell of the microwave popcorn. On Wednesday, Watson won a $7.2 million verdict against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc., for his illness.
“I probably look like a fairly healthy guy but I only have, on a good day, about 53 percent lung capacity,” Watson told ABC News.
Popcorn lung is usually found in plant workers exposed to high levels of diacetyl, an artificial flavoring used to give popcorn that buttery taste. Watson sued the popcorn maker and the supermarket that sold it, Kroger, claiming the companies never warned consumers that diacetyl – also recently linked to Alzheimer’s–was dangerous.
“They thought that no consumer would ever be exposed to enough of it to make a difference well they rolled the dice and they lose,” Watson told ABC News.
Defense attorneys argued that Watson’s health problems stemmed from working with carpet-cleaning chemicals for years, according to KCNC-TV in Denver.
Watson previously settled claims against the flavor developer FONA International Inc., formerly Flavors of North America Inc., according to The Associated Press.
As for the money, Watson plans on giving some to charity, but says he will not be buying microwave popcorn.
Editor’s comments: I recently changed from using packaged microwave popcorn to making my own microwave popcorn, using kernels in a brown paper lunch bag. I can add my own flavors and don’t worry about chemicals that may be harmful.
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