Microwave popcorn is a fast and tasty treat enjoyed by millions of people everyday. It is quick and tasty and as long as it is not overcooked, the smell of the bags of the stuff creates a pleasant aroma that everyone can enjoy. However, microwave popcorn, especially the kind with rich savory butter has a dark secret that has only recently surfaced. The flavoring contains a substance called diacetyl which has been linked to a rare lung ailment.
Diacetyl causes the lung ailments in the workers in the factries were microwave popcorn is made. According to the Environmental Protection Agency those who enjoy the product in their safety of their homes are not in danger of developing the lung disorders. ConAgra foods, who makes the company who owns Crunch ‘n Munch says there popular popcorn treat does not contain diacetyl, according to a report in The Daily of Item of September 7, 2007.
A study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency on the nation’s most popular snack foods revealed the potential dangers of the chemical contained in microwave popcorn. The idea for a study on microwave popcorn and potentially dangerous chemicals such as diacetyl after hearing a presentation about workers at the Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation’s plant in Jasper, Missouri.
The lung disease caused by the diacetyl in microwave popcorn is broncholitis obliterans, which is an rare obstructive and life-threatening ailment. The disease has become so common among people who work in plants that produce microwave popcorn that it has become known as popcorn worker’s lung. The only way to cure the condition is through a lung transplant. While diacetyl is the chemical now known to be responsible there are now Occupational Health and Safety Administration guidelines to determine how it should be used. In light of the recent report exposing the dangers of the chemical commonly used in microywave popcorn, new guidelines or a replacement will soon be issued.
The Food and Drug Administrations has diacetyl on a list of susbstances that it generally recognizes as safe according to the Washington Post. While the disease does tend to build up over time, it is much faster acting than lung cancer that develops due to smoking. It is likely the microwave popcorn industry will have to find some new chemical to replace diacetyl.