Potential Hazards Not Communicated in Safety Data Sheets of Flavoring Formulations, Including Diacetyl and 2,3-Pentanedione
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Potential Hazards Not Communicated in Safety Data Sheets of Flavoring Formulations, Including Diacetyl and 2,3-Pentanedione

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  • Alternative Title:
    Ann Work Expo Health
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    Workers using flavoring formulations containing diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione may be at risk of inhalational exposure, as these volatile hazardous chemicals are emitted from the bulk material, especially at elevated temperatures. However, flavoring formulations that contain diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione might not list these ingredients because they are generally recognized as safe to ingest, may be part of a proprietary mixture deemed a trade secret, or may not be required to be listed if they are present at <1% composition. The objective of this study was to investigate whether potential inhalational hazards present in flavoring samples were reported as chemical ingredients on their corresponding safety data sheets (SDSs).


    A convenience sample of 26 bulk liquid flavorings obtained from two coffee roasting and packaging facilities in the USA was analyzed for 20 volatile organic chemicals present in the headspaces of vials containing flavoring liquids using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Flavoring samples were included in the study if headspace analysis results and SDSs were available. Flavoring samples included hazelnut, French vanilla, amaretto, chocolate, and caramel as well as some flavoring mixtures containing added fruit flavors such as cherry and raspberry. The presence of a chemical in the flavoring formulation was then compared to the ingredient list on the SDSs.


    All the flavoring SDSs contained trade secret designations. None of the SDSs listed diacetyl or 2,3-pentanedione. Headspace analyte concentrations revealed that diacetyl was present in 21 of 26 samples (81%) with a maximum concentration of 5.84 × 104 μg m–3 in flavor 18 (caramel). 2,3-Pentanedione was present in 15 flavors (58%) with a maximum concentration of 3.79 × 105 μg m–3 in flavor 24 (oatmeal cookies).


    A majority of the flavorings tested had diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, or both as volatile constituents in the headspace. These chemicals were not listed on the SDSs, but inclusion of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione on SDSs would serve to protect downstream users from unrecognized exposure and potential respiratory disease. The headspace technique presented here is a viable tool to rapidly screen for volatile hazardous chemicals that may be present in flavoring formulations. Facilities that use flavorings should be aware that constituents in flavorings may present a potential inhalational hazard even if not identified as such by the SDS. A precautionary approach is warranted when working with flavorings, including exposure monitoring and effective exposure control strategies such as containment and local exhaust ventilation.

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