Microwave popcorn found to give off dangerous gas

microwave and popcorn

Microwave popcorn

found to give off

dangerous gas

Nathan Batalion, Global Health Advocate, Healingtalks Editor

(Healingtalks) To add to all the food hazards in the marketplace, it is not surprising that the typical microwave popcorn you find in fast food chains has a chemical additive to give it a buttery flavor. It is better known as  diacetyl.

Popcorn lung among factory workers

Diacetyl is such an extremely toxic chemical that it terribly harms the lungs of microwave-popcorn factory workers. Their disease is debilitating and technically known as bronchiolitis obliterans.  It is also known as constrictive bronchiolitis because the inflammation is accompanied by fibrous buildups that obstruct or block the lung’s functioning. The condition is further known to be irreversible (unless one has a lung transplant) and potentially even fatal. It is  more commonly known as “popcorn lung.”

Animal studies

A reaction similar to “popcorn lung” has been noted in  mice fed with Diacetyl.  This is according to a study conducted by researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences as published in the journal Toxicological Sciences. The same researchers exposed the mice to diacetyl with air-concentrations similar to those in factories and after only three weeks the mice developed lymphocytic bronchiolitis, which precedes the more serious obstructive illness.

“Popcorn lung” also found to affect consumers

The risk of getting this disease among factory workers had been known for decades. However, the assumption was that no one outside of that highly-populated factory air environment would ever be affected. Then in 2007, they first discovered a man who consumer two bags of microwave popcorn every day and was diagnosed with popcorn lung. This refers to Wayne Watson of Centennial, Colorado who ended up suing the food chain who sold him the product. Tests by the National Jewish Hospital of the air in his kitchen showed concentrations of diacetyl only slightly less than those found in the popcorn factories. This demonstrated that diacetyl can affect the lungs of consumers when the popcorn is regularly prepared at home in a microwave oven.

Several other cases of consumers have been known, with lawsuits filed in New York and California. There is also the case of Elaine Khoury, a Blockbuster employee who for five years worked as a store manager and twice a week would pop 30 bags of microwaved popcorn in a small back room, and then empty them into a popcorn machine to give the false appearance of them having been freshly popped. As a result she developed obstructive bronchiolitis, as indicated by a biopsy at Mayo Clinic where she is awaiting a lung transplant!

“No one knows how many cases of consumers injured by the flavoring vapor for the microwaved popcorn because no one has really looked,” said Dr. David Egilman, a specialist in internal and occupational medicine.

Industry’s deceptive reaction

To reassure their customers, several major microwave popcorn companies, including ConAgra and Weaver, got rid of their diacetyl. They did this as a marketing ploy, only to replace it with chemicals that show the same consequences or worse.

Today, you can still find a few brands of microwave popcorn with diacetyl – and even in some “natural” foods sections because that title is largely meaningless and a basic fraud.

A second toxic impact

A report by the FDA indicates that a common chemical coating used in microwave popcorn bags breaks down in the microwave oven into what are called perfluorooctanoic substances (PFOA). The EPA views this as a carcinogenic agent. Some studies point to it causing infertility or hampering fetal development.

Still another major concern, using GMO corn and GMO canola/corn oil

Most all popcorn (about 90%+) comes from genetically modified corn kernels. The oil or butter added may include GMO canola or corn oil. Animal studies point to the potential of significant health harms when ingesting GMO foods.

Can you make healthy popcorn?

Sure. We recommend you

  • First buy only the organic kind (often found in health food stores or natural sections of supermarkets).
  • Don’t cover the popcorn with any synthetic additives. Use only a small amount of organic oils, and preferably non-dairy. If you are have any history of cardiovascular disease, we recommend avoid all oils. Otherwise for the best of organic oils, see if you like a pinch of coconut oil (which is the most heat stable oil to not tend to clog vessels).
  • Add your favorite healthy organic spices, like garlic, cayenne/pepper, Celtic or Himalayan, or kelp salt – all rich in healthy nutrients and minerals.
  • Finally avoid the microwave at all costs and make the popcorn more traditionally in either a popcorn maker or steamer.

Safeguarding your health

With a lack of federal regulations  to safeguard us, it becomes our responsibility to safeguard our own health. This can begin by reading the ingredients of any food we want to buy, serve and consume. Always veer toward organic. If more this is a little more expensive, in the long run it isn’t. Don’t forget the huge cost of medical treatments when you get sick.

Thus it becomes a good idea to avoid microwaving as such, due to that technology’s own hazards – and to avoid most other foods made for microwaving, being often highly processed and chemicallized.

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Keywords

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