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Occupational hazard

(article, Carrie Floyd)

I gave up microwave popcorn a few years ago because of the trans fat. Now there's even a better reason to resist the lure of the puffy bag: lung disease.

As reported recently in the New York Times (and discussed on numerous blogs), excessive consumption of microwave popcorn (or the occupational hazard of working in a microwave-popcorn factory) can lead to bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn workers’ lung.” The cause? Diacetyl, the additive responsible for the buttery flavor in microwave popcorn. As the Times_ reported:

bq. Diacetyl is found naturally in milk, cheese, butter and other products. Heated diacetyl becomes a vapor and, when inhaled over a long period of time, seems to lead the small airways in the lungs to become swollen and scarred. 

And yes, the disease can be fatal. 

[%image feed-image float=right width=250 caption="Act II popcorn."]

In response, ConAgra (which makes Orville Redenbacher and Act II popcorn products), the Weaver Popcorn Company, General Mills, and the American Pop Corn Company announced that they would remove diacetyl from their nukeable popcorn treats. 

As Tom Philpott pointed out on Grist, it took news coverage of this scandal to force manufacturers to do something about diacetyl. Never mind that the industry (and the Environmental Protection Agency) have known for years that the stuff is dangerous to factory workers.

All in favor of real butter and truth in advertising, join the fake-butter boycott. After all, it's easy to make your own microwave popcorn, and cheaper, too.


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