September 9, 2007

toxic popcorn

Where will it end? People are finding problems with everything these days. Now it's the microwave popcorn. I mean, obviously it isn't "good" for you, but it is kinda creepy to think about people working in the popcorn flavoring factories dying because of the chemical used to make butter flavor.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports, "The chemical, diacetyl, adds buttery taste. Government worker safety investigators have linked exposure to the synthetic butter to the sometimes fatal destruction of the lungs of hundreds of workers in food production and flavoring factories." Other articles report that the flavoring industry has known about safety issues with diacetyl for some time but only recently began to take action.

Seems many popcorn manufacturers are making plans to phase out the dangerous chemical while they maintain that it is still safe for consumers to use their products. Reports say the danger is during the production process when the chemical is heated and in vapor form.

But if you eat loads of popcorn, you might want to think twice. I also read about the first consumer to be suffering the same symptoms as the factory workers. Seems he was eating 2 bags of microwave popcorn per day and inhaling the steam as he opened the bags. Now he has been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn workers’ lung", which can be fatal.

All the more reason to keep things as natural and simple as possible. I'm personally kind of a spaz when it comes to making popcorn on the stovetop, the old fashioned way. I leave that to my husband, the popcorn expert.

In a New York Times article on the subject, they referenced a homemade microwave popcorn recipe. I have not tried it. Personally, I'd be too scared to put a staple in the microwave! If you try it let me know how it goes:

From Alton Brown of the Food Network:
Place one-quarter cup of good quality popcorn in a standard brown paper lunch bag; mix with oil and seasoning; seal the bag with a single staple and heat for two to three minutes in the microwave.


Anonymous said...

being the consummate popcorn lover that i am.... i will try alton browns recipe and will get back to you!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised, to put it mildly, to hear that you are using a microwave at all !! Check out for some great information/scientific research on the extreme dangers of microwaving.

mom go green said...

thanks for the info, anonymous. i actually don't use the microwave much at all. i personally don't use microwave popcorn these days, although i used to. the information on the dangerous ingredient sure is good reinforcement to stick with unprocessed foods, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

I have joined my local "freecycle" group (found out about it on Mom go Green), and had the opportunity to buy a slightly used hot-air popcorn popper. It is old, but looks brand new! Out with microwave popcorn; and in with organic popcorn, cooked the old fashioned least popcorn cooked the way they did in the 70's. HaHa.