I have to say when I learned about the dangers of microwave popcorn a few years ago I was so disappointed because for me just popping a bag into the microwave was such a fast and easy way to get a healthy snack. Or so I thought. So, I began to purchase bagged already popped popcorn and there are so many choices available. Then a friend introduced me to popping my own popcorn right on the stove. No appliance needed. Just a pot with a lid, some popping corn and some oil and salt (butter if you like). I was fascinated when I saw him make it and it brought me back to when my family popped popcorn on the stove with the Jiffy pan when I was a kid.
So here is the skinny on microwave bags of popcorn!
Chemicals used in the lining of microwavable popcorn bags, including perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals caused liver cancer, testicular cancer and pancreatic cancer. When microwave popcorn is heated, PFOA leaks into the popcorn, eventually manifesting as contaminants in our blood.
Oh my Goodness!!! Soooo not worth it to me. Then there are the fertility issues that have been linked to PFOA.
How about the “butter flavoring”?
Normally, butter flavoring is not the same as butter extract. It does not contain dairy since it’s not made from cow milk.
This ambiguous ingredient is seen on most brands of microwavable butter-flavored popcorn. Movie theaters also use it. This flavoring can be made out of diacetyl (butane-2,3-dione) which is a natural byproduct created during the fermentation of some bacteria. This compound, along with acetoin, give butter its taste.
Since diacetyl is the main flavor compound in butter, snack manufacturers have been synthesizing it and using as a substitute for the real thing. When heated in popcorn, diacetyl can cause permanent damage to the lungs and airways. Nicknamed “popcorn lung” and officially named bronchiolitis obliterans, breathing in diacetyl vapors can obstruct the smallest airways of the lungs (bronchioles) by causing them to be inflamed.
I hope you will rethink your microwave popcorn and try the homemade stove top version. I promise it is so simple to make! And you control the oils that go in. My preference is avocado oil and I salt with Pink Himilayan salt and Earth Balance Vegan butter.