Artificial butter flavor is not safe to eat. According to a new study, its tied to a common mental illness effecting seniors. Past reports have shown artificial butter flavor damages the lungs. Now a 2011 study shows artificial butter flavor can also cause a debilitating mental disease that causes significant memory loss. This study, done by Robert Vince, Swati More, and Ashish Vartak, raises many concerns. They show that chronic exposure of workers in food industry to artificial butter flavor can cause neurological problems too.
Artificial Butter Flavor Worsens Brain Abnormalities
This chemical ingredient, called diacetyl (DA), creates a distinctive buttery flavor and aroma in foods. You can find it in microwave popcorn, margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products. The study found evidence that diacetyl (DA) intensifies the damaging effects of an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The study appears in ACS journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Robert Vince and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak explain that the chemical DA has been the focus of a lot of research recently. They think it’s because the chemical is linked to respiratory and other problems in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories. DA gives microwave popcorn its distinctive artificial butter flavor and aroma. DA also forms naturally in fermented beverages such as beer, and gives some chardonnay wines a buttery taste. Vince’s team realized that DA has an architecture similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain. Protein clumping in the brain is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. So they tested whether DA also could clump those proteins.
DA did increase the level of beta-amyloid clumping. At real-world occupational exposure levels, DA also enhanced beta-amyloid’s toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory. Other lab experiments showed that DA easily penetrated the so-called “blood-brain barrier.” This barrier keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. DA also stopped a protective protein called glyoxalase I from safeguarding nerve cells.
“In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to DA, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by DA,” say the researchers.
The authors acknowledge funding from the Center for Drug Design (CDD) research endowment funds at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. This information is brought to you through a press release by the American Chemical Society (ACS).