Popcorn ‘nuked’ in those microwave bags with the shiny silver insides are a very popular snack but recent health concerns have come to light that have health experts worried.
As you read through you will find good reasons to switch a healthier replacement snack like nuts, or at very least make your own popcorn to avoid some surprisingly toxic chemicals.
When it’s movie night and you’re getting ready to break out the popcorn, using an air popper or jostling a pot of kernels in a heart-friendly oil on your stove top might be your best choices.
A report from the FDA indicates that a chemical coating used in microwave popcorn bags breaks down when heated into a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA). The Environmental Protection Agency has identified PFOA as a “likely carcinogen.”
Another study has found an acid that can be extracted from the chemical causes cancer in animals and is “likely to cause cancer in humans.”
A second potential danger in microwave popcorn is diacetyl, an FDA-approved chemical found in the fake butter flavoring. There’s even a debilitating respiratory disease called “popcorn workers lung,” (the medical name of the condition is bronchiolitis obliterans) suffered by microwave popcorn factory workers caused by extended inhalation of the chemical’s fumes.
The Food and Drug Administration continues to study whether consumers can develop lung disease from inhaling diacetyl. In response to the concerns regarding the risks of diacetyl exposure, a number of microwave popcorn manufacturers have discontinued using it in their products.
While it may be convenient, these chemicals alone make it a surprising health risk and definitely not something you’d want to be eating regularly.
1.Diacetyl Butter Flavoring
Diacetyl is an artificially created chemical that has been used in the ‘butter’ flavorings that are common in microwave popcorn.
So many people who worked manufacturing this product became sick with scarring of the lungs that the condition was termed ‘popcorn lung’.
American popcorn manufacturers promised to come up with safer alternatives to this chemical, but regulators have recently found that the diacetyl substitutes they chose may be just as toxic.
Butter starter distillates and trimmers, the most common replacements, themselves contain diacetyl or release it when heated and are not considered any healthier than the original toxic chemical they are meant to supersede.
In Europe diacetyl is still approved for use and is a common additive in snack foods.
2.TBHQ – Lighter Fluid with Your Popcorn?
Tertiary butylhydroquinone or TBHQ is a chemical preservative used in microwave popcorn and many other snack foods. It is also a form of butane.
Why anyone thought it was a good idea to allow lighter fluid in microwave popcorn is beyond me.
While the amounts are small, all of these different chemicals add up and create an extra burden on your body to eliminate them.
3.PFOA in Microwave Popcorn Bags
The third of these microwave popcorn health risks isn’t actually an ingredient. It’s a gas that is given off by the bags that your popcorn comes in when heated in the microwave.
Perflurooctanoic acid or PFOA is a toxic chemical that has been labeled a likely human carcinogen.
It is strongly implicated in a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and thyroid problems and just inhaling enough of it can make you feel sick.
That’s a real problem when the first thing most people do when they removed a bag of popcorn from the microwave is open it and to take a deep breath.
4.The Hidden Ingredients
Even though natural flavors and artificial flavors are listed on the ingredient label of microwave popcorn, we have no way of knowing what’s actually in these ingredients.
Food manufacturers won’t tell you and they hide things in there like MSG, beaver’s anal glands and diacetyl butter flavoring.
What’s so wrong with a little bit of artificial butter flavoring? Well a lot. This stuff is seriously toxic.
Let’s pop some on our own!