Dangers of Microwave Popcorn

What dangers does microwave popcorn contain?

If the popcorn was left unattended in the microwave for too long, it would obviously burn. I definitely see that as being dangerous, especially if it were to catch fire. Then things could get absolutely disastrous.

Burnt popcorn and the smoke is known to be a health risk.

Popcorn is considered a healthy snack. However, there have been studies reported that microwave popcorn can actually be dangerous to one's health.

It's not the popcorn itself. It's the ingredients added to the packaging and the microwaveable bags.

Safety cone.

Dangers Of Fake Butter Flavoring For Microwave Popcorn

Diacetyl is a chemical added to fake butter to enhance a buttery flavor. This ingredient is found in most microwave popcorn products, as well as other artificial butter enhanced food products.

When heated, diacetyl gives off vapor fumes. The fumes are said to be hazardous if inhaled consistently for an overly extended period of time.

There have also been numerous reports of consumers and factory workers attracting this debilitating respiratory disease.

One instance is of a Denver, Colorado man by the name of Wayne Watson inhaling the aroma of his freshly popped popcorn 2 times a day for over 10 years. The outcome?...

He was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as "popcorn workers lung". He won $7.2 million in his law suit against Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation and the King Sooper's supermarket.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that diacetyl is safe to consume in it's chemical form. After all, it's a natural occurring ingredient produced during the fermentation process in alcohol, and also found in cultured milk and dairy products.

Measures have been set forth to perform extensive studies and to provide safety precautions for factory workers and consumers. Most companies like ConAgra, Pop Weaver and Trail's End no longer use diacetyl in their butter flavored microwave popcorn products. Diacetyl has also been linked to Alzheimer's disease, but more extensive testing is required to build upon the theory.

Harmful Materials Used For Microwave Popcorn Bags

The inside lining of microwave bags contain a Teflon coating, which breaks down into a chemical coating when heated called C8, also known as perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCA's), or more specifically perfluorooctanoic (PFOA).

This Teflon coating is the same material used for other types of microwaveable foods, such as pot pies, hot pockets, tv dinners and other appetizers. It's also the same material used to line non-stick cookware like pots and pans.

According to reports issued by the FDA, these chemicals are likely to be a carcinogen. The acid extracted from these chemicals have been found to cause cancer in test animals such as lab rats. However, no reports indicate that humans have been diagnosed with any form of cancer stemming from these chemicals.

To Eat, Or Not To Eat Microwave Popcorn?

That is the question.

I personally don't see much harm being caused by much of the products being manufactured today. Except by one's self due negligence, like blowing up the microwave and burning down the house.

Further studies shall provide us a greater understanding about the ingredients and materials used in these products. Changes have been made already, and more are on the way. If they do in fact ever confirm that microwave popcorn is dangerous, I'm certain that those substances will be banned, too.

Rules and Alternatives to Microwave Popcorn Danger Risks

  1. Simply read the packaging labels. If it says that it contains diacetyl, then don't buy it!
  2. If in doubt, make your own fresh popcorn in a popper or on the stove top.
  3. Use real butter or oil to enhance the flavor.
  4. Always check the labels on all butter flavor substitutes.
  5. Never leave popcorn cooking unattended.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy my favorite brands of microwave popcorn!

Please use your own judgement at your own risk of eating popcorn, as I will not be held responsible for your health and well being.

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