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Don't Inhale the Popcorn Fumes

Don't Inhale the Popcorn Fumes

I find the aroma of freshly popped microwave intoxicating, because basically I am a sucker for anything salty and crunchy. Since it is the last day of National Popcorn Popping Month, I thought I should break the bad news. Unfortunately that familiar movie theater smell may actually be dangerous.

The fumes from butter flavored microwave popcorn contain the chemical diacetyl, which is an additive that gives food that buttery taste. It has been linked to lung disease in workers at factories manufacturing butter flavoring and buttered flavored popcorn. Recently a man from Colorado, who ate two bags of extra buttery flavored microwave popcorn daily for several years, was reported to have contracted "popcorn lung," or broncheolitis obliterans in medical speak.

Doctors say that eating microwave popcorn isn't dangerous, but they're not yet sure about the dangers of inhaling the fumes. In response, some microwave popcorn companies including those that make Orville Redenbacher, Act II, Pop Secret and Jolly Time are planning on ditching that chemical from their products.

I'm all for anything in moderation, but this little tidbit of info is pretty scary. How can inhaling the chemical be harmful, but consuming it be safe? It doesn't make sense, and this is a great example of why reading nutrition labels is so important. As a rule of thumb, when I check out a product, if I haven't heard of an ingredient, I don't buy it.

Fit's Tips: When it comes to microwave popcorn, Newman's Own Organics makes a pretty tasty product, but I prefer to pop my own on the stove. All you need is a pot, a lid, some canola oil, and popcorn kernels. It tastes better than any microwave popcorn I've ever had, and I feel good knowing what's in it. If you don't want to use oil, you can microwave the kernels in a lunch size brown paper bag. Check out my recipe here.


Join The Conversation
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
What the heck?! Sigh. I'm going to be popping my own on the stove from now on, too--or investing in a popcorn popper. It'll make watching movies that much more enjoyable anyway, after standing over a stove popping corn. :) AND it's great for portion control b/c you won't want to get up mid-movie to make more corn, lol!
Beaner Beaner 9 years
good point rose-y.
rosey_y rosey_y 9 years
Who would've thought that after eating two bags of extra buttery popcorn a DAY for years on end (blergh) it would've been the fumes from the flavour that took him down, not cardiac arrest. :p
Hollie86 Hollie86 9 years
I have a air popper, and air popped popcorn tastes better.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I never eat popcorn from the theatre, it's so unsanitary!
7kimba7 7kimba7 9 years
I have a popcorn air popper... it is one of my favorite kitchen appliances!
EcannDallas EcannDallas 9 years
hay fit, just FYI boy scouts of america are doing their annual popcorn sale and they have already eliminated diacetyl from their products!
nikolem2 nikolem2 9 years
Yeah I've heard these stories too. Lucky for me I don't eat commercial popcorn (microwave or theatre). I make my own from scratch--I buy popcorn kernels from the bulk bins. They are super cheap, and it takes a few minutes, but it's totally worth it. Here's how: Get out a big pot with a lid (preferrably a clear lid). Put about 1-2 Tbsp oil in the pot, along with about 5-10 kernels of popcorn. Turn the heat to medium (or slightly above medium, but not hot--that will burn the popcorn). Put on the lid and wait. When those kernels all pop, take off the lid and all all the kernels--I'd say about 1/2 to 3/4 cup for a large pot--about enough to cover the floor of the pan. Return the lid. Now comes the work-- use potholders and the pot's handles to slide the pot back and forth over the burner--you never want to let it sit still. Just forward and back...side to side...over and over. Keep the heat medium-ish and wait for it to heat up again. Soon they'll start popping--just keep moving the pan until the popping stops--and you're done. Then I pour it all into a big bowl and put some butter (I actually use Earth Balance spread) into the already-warm pot to melt. Pour the butter over the bowl, add salt to taste--yummy!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
Ewwww really?! That is freaking crazy!!!
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