NEWARK – The US Department of Labor has proposed penalizing a Newark-based food flavoring company for a number of alleged health and safety violations, including excessive exposure to a harmful chemical.

Natural Flavors Inc. could face fines totaling $ 60,400 for 12 inspectors of violations found during an inspection of its Doremus Avenue facility. Among other things, investigators from the department’s occupational health and safety agency were able to confirm that workers were overexposed to diacetyl, a chemical used in flavors that have been linked to a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.

According to a statement from the Department of Labor, investigators acted on information the agency had received about possible exposure to the chemical. The agency has proposed a $ 2,800 fine for the violation.

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“As early as 2004, the flavor industry was aware that workers who were overexposed to diacetyl at work had developed severe, life-threatening lung disease,” said Robert D. Kulick, OSHA regional administrator in New York publication. “It is outrageous that Natural Flavors would expose workers to this debilitating chemical without taking the necessary steps to properly assess exposure and protect their employees.”

In a statement emailed to Herb Stein, President of Natural Flavors, said: “We take the allegations raised by OSHA seriously and are working with the agency to resolve the matter. The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees have it has always been done and is of the utmost importance to us. “

OSHA also cited the company for inadequate identification and assessment of respiratory hazards, an “willful” injury that resulted in a $ 28,000 fine. The company was also fined $ 9,600 for alleged, repeated violations of the requirements that it had a site-specific program to protect workers’ respiratory tract and update information about new chemical hazards.

The company has 15 working days to challenge the penalties or request a hearing, the Ministry of Labor said.