Should We Think Twice About Microwave Popcorn?

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 I’ve never been much of a popcorn eater but know plenty of people who live and breathe for those puffed up little kernels. By now, most people know that popcorn can be a healthy, high fiber, whole grain addition to your diet. That’s why there are plenty of microwaveable popcorn companies on the market, wanting you and your family to experience the taste and flavor of being at the movies from the convenience of your home.

 What you might NOT know, is that there are dangerous chemicals lurking in that “harmless” bag of microwaveable popcorn. 

 According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the steam from microwave popcorn contains nearly four dozen chemicals. One chemical, diacetyl, used to add the buttery flavoring to popcorn, was removed from most large brands of microwaveable bags (ConAgra, General Mills, American Pop Corn Company, and Pop Weaver) because it was found to be toxic upon heating. GOOD!

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However, recently researchers at the University of Toronto reported that the chemicals lining junk food/fast food wrappers and microwaveable popcorn bags are leaking into your food (source). Dangerous chemicals such as perfluorinated carbocylic acids (PFCAs) or more specifically,  Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8 (a Teflon Chemical), line microwave popcorn bags and get in to your bloodstream from consuming the food inside the bag. PFCAs have been linked to cancer and other development problems in animals.

“According to Daily News Central “In a study published last month, Food and Drug Administration researchers said microwave popcorn bags alone could expose the public to ‘hundreds of times’ more C8 than normal use of nonstick cookware.” The C8 is then ingested by the people eating the popcorn.” (source)

“Maureen McFadden of WDNU reported on 5/3/06: “Recent tests found PFOA, which can be extracted from Fluorotelomer, does cause cancer in animals.” Scientist Glen Evers explains, “Even before we cook the popcorn, the butter is already contaminated with a paper flurochemical that will be absorbed into your blood and stay in your blood for a long, long time.” (source)

I love my popcorn maker when I DO have a craving for popcorn!

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I realize that many of you may be shocked or angered by the notion of giving up microwaveable popcorn. I’m not providing you this information with the intention to make you upset. My goal is for each of us to be informed about when we could be ingesting potentially harmful chemicals. I want you to understand that the next time you microwave a bag of Orville Redenbacher, you are being exposed to even MORE chemicals (than you already are on a daily basis), which could easily be prevented by using other methods of preparing popcorn (without losing all the flavor)! 

  1.  MAKE YOUR OWN! It doesn’t take that much effort to pop some kernals on the stovetop OR purchase a popcorn maker!
  2. Check out How To Make Chemical-FREE Microwave Popcorn from eHOW. SUPER EASY!!
  3. Check out Granny’s Natural Popcorn. There are no additives, preservatives and/or chemicals that are now being found in the other brands of microwave-popcorn you’re used to.  To find out more about Granny’s Natural Popcorn go to: http://www.grannysnaturalpopcorn.com

QUESTION: Do you eat popcorn? Did you already know about chemicals in microwaveable popcorn? What are your thoughts?

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25 comments to Should We Think Twice About Microwave Popcorn?

  • Kristina

    Instead of using microwave popcorn I use the EZ Popcorn Maker from Viatek. The EZ Pop allows me to pop healthy jumbo popcorn without the dangerous chemical diacetyl. What’s more, the EZ pop is manufactured with FDA food grade plastic which does not contain dyes or recycled plastics deemed harmful to humans. Not only is the EZ Pop a safer alternative, but a healthier alternative. Unlike microwave popcorn bags, the EZ Pop allows you to control the amount of butter and salt you use, eliminating extra calories and harmful chemicals. I got mine at: http://www.viatekproducts.com/ez-popcorn-maker/

  • A Connecticut Boy Scout group sold microwave popcorn this season and relatives bought it and gave my husband a large package for Christmas. We are aware of the dangers and stopped using microwave popcorn awhile ago. Efforts should be made to inform the Boy Scouts and other such groups that is not a product they should be selling.

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  • I used to live on mw popcorn but stopped the habit a while ago. My college-aged son loves popcorn so I bought him a bowl specific for making mw popcorn. He buys organic kernels now and puts them in this bowl (I got it at Target) which has a lid. No oil required to pop it, but I think he adds butter when it’s done. It’s a great, cheap, late-night study snack (or goofing-off snack) and easy to use in the dorms.

  • I eat popcorn maybe 1 or 2 times a year. I have to be the absolute mood for it otherwise I think it’s gross. My husband eats it way more frequently though. And, it’s the only food he actually feeds the dog (human food that is). She knows the sound it makes in the microwave and starts whining the second she hears it popping. It’s hysterical.

  • I used to microwave popcorn almost daily when i worked in an office…now if i buy it, i buy the gourmet kettle corn and it is DELICIOUS!

  • I don’t really like popcorn, but my husband loves it. We recently bought a bag of popcorn kernels and he started popping them over the stovetop. He loves it!! SO much cheaper, and just as quick as the microwave!

    I didn’t know about the chemicals in the bag, but I’ve been learning a lot recently about harmful chemicals in most packaging. I’m working on reducing the amount of plastic we bring in this house. With talk of BPA, I’m not convinced BPA is the only harmful substance found in all this plastic.

  • I have read about this before. I have since stopped using microwave popcorn.
    I hadn’t heard of the brand Granny’s. I am going to have to check that out. Thanks!

  • i don’t eat popcorn because i just don’t crave it/love it. but in the past, we always used an air-popper. we never had micro-d bags growing up, so i never got into that. actually, we never got popcorn at the movies, either, growing up…i’m going to blame my parents that i’m not that into popcorn!
    thanks for the info, though…i think micro popcorn is a simple, easy treat…just easy does it on how often you have it (like a lot of things!)

  • Amy

    I love popcorn…sometimes I think I could go for weeks eating it and it alone! Okay, not really, but it’s my all-time favorite snack! I don’t like microwave popcorn as much as what comes out of the popper anyway, so this makes me happy! Just an excuse to use the air-popper and not buy the microwave kind that tastes sub-par anyway.

  • That’s crazy! I’m not a huge popcorn fan, but I’ll eat it from time to time if I’m bored. I had no idea what was really in it!

  • I am a popcorn addict!!! I used to eat microwave, but I pop my own now. I did read about the dangers a few years ago, which freaked me out since I was eating it so much. Popping your own is SO much better anyway!

  • I try to tell my clients this ALLLL the time. All too often people only concentrate on the calories of the food rather than what is actually in it. I think that is wayyyy to true of popcorn. Thank you for sharing this!

  • My sister in law and I JUST had a conversation about this last week! I actually love microwave popcorn and stopped eating it when I got pregnant after reading these articles! Scary stuff. I want to try making my own (I can’t believe I’ve never done this before). Glad you put the post up :)

  • Since we learned about the chemical cocktail in bagged microwave popcorn, we’ve steered clear of it. For a while, that meant no popcorn, which made for some pretty lame movie nights.

    But once I learned how to do homemade microwave popcorn – 1/4 cup popping corn kernels, 1 tsp olive oil, put in a brown paper bag & fold over tightly, and zap it on the “popcorn” setting of your microwave – it’s a staple at our house once again! A good thing, too, because with an almost-5-year-old in the house, there are a *lot* of movie nights.

  • I eat microwave popcorn occasionally and I think that should be ok. Usually I prefer to pop my own anyway.

  • Gen

    Oh my word! I had no idea how many chemicals were in microwave popcorn!!! I usually just make my own by putting some kernels in a brown bag and microwaving it!

  • I admit that I have a few bags of the stuff in my pantry right now, but I’ve already asked for a popcorn maker for my bday. I don’t eat popcorn often, but when I do, I really enjoy it.

  • I *love* popcorn. I eat it 2x a week at least and yes it is microwave. And also, yes, I’m aware of the chemicals. You’d think I’d stay away, but I can’t and I haven’t moved to an air popper because the convenience of a bag is just too good to pass up. Meep!

  • I don’t have popcorn too often but I do keep bagged popcorn in my pantry for the occasional crave. Thanks for sharing all the info because I was unaware of this issue. That popcorn maker looks awesome and how nice would it be to have fresh popcorn made in a flash!

  • Rarely do I have a craving for popcorn! Maybe sometimes at the movies because the smell is just intoxicating, but it’s rarely a snack in my daily/weekly/monthly routine. I’ll still eat it, but have pondered more than once how many preservatives are sitting in that flavoring that just “sits” in the bag…

  • Oh wow. I love popcorn when I go to the movies! I never thought about how unhealthy microwave popcorn is considering how low in calories some of them run! Thanks for this!

  • Karin

    Great post. I was just talking about micro popcorn the other day with a friend. We didn’t think it was a good healthy thing to eat (we assumed there had to be some lurking unhealthy ingredients). Thanks for clarifying it. Love your blog!

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