In diluted form, diacetyl has a distinct taste and smell of butter and is a natural component of butter aroma and contributes to the fine pleasant flavour of cottage cheese, buttermilk, and other fermented dairy products.
Diacetyl is used as a flavouring agent in butter, margarine, oil sprays, and other butter-flavoured substances and gives microwave popcorn its buttery flavour.
In high concentration, diacetyl smells distinctly rancid. It is naturally produced by lactic acid bacteria.
Diacetyl may cause severe and irreversible lung damage through prolonged or repeated exposure.
Natural diacetyl is produced by fermentation of Sugarcane Bagasse. Synthetic diacetyl by dehydrogenation of 2,3-butanediol via the intermediate Acetoin. Industrial production capacity is mainly located prevalently in China. A historic producer is also present in South Africa.
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