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Microwave Popcorn: Yes, It Just May Kill You

By Kristie Turck •  Published 09/30/08 •  2 min read

Last updated on August 20th, 2022 at 12:33 am

A good friend of mine and SafeMama reader sent me an article about the dangers of microwave popcorn.  While this might be old news to some, I have been living under the rock known as “motherhood.”  I figured that information like this can’t be in enough places.

There are a couple of reasons that microwaveable popcorn can pose a hazard to your health.

1. Because there’s nothing natural about being able to make popcorn in a microwave, the bag is lined with a coating that is known to break down into a substance known as PFOA, or the long impossible to pronounce name: perfluorooctanoic.  Better living through science?  Not when there’s a strong possibility of it being a carcinogen.

2. That yummy fake buttery flavor that we all love so much contains a chemical (deemed safe by the FDA.  Do you see a pattern here?) called diacetyl.    To the general public, it probably doesn’t pose a problem to most (although I don’t like my foods to include ingredients I have a hard time pronouncing). However, factory workers exposed to this chemical over extended periods have developed what they’ve started calling “popcorn lung.”  Or, again, with the big long fancy name: bronchiolitis obliterans.

Now, the good news is that diacetyl has been phased out of most popcorn brands.   Orville Redenbacher and ACT II, both owned by ConAgra Foods had changed their recipe late last year and all new boxes should say “no added diacetyl” on the box.   Pop Secret’s popcorn was reformulated about a year ago, as was Jolly Time’s.  This doesn’t help unless they remove the coatings inside the bag.

Safer Alternatives to Microwave Popcorn Bags.

So what can you do to get your microwave popcorn fix and still avoid all of the chemicals?

Well, you can cook popcorn the old-fashioned way on the stove.  Or you can still cook it in the microwave using the below glass or silicone popcorn maker.

And you can use real butter to flavor your popcorn, which is so much better anyway.   Mmmmm butter.

  1. The Original Popco Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper with Handles
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  2. Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top Popcorn Popper
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