...but OH, it tastes so good.
You've probably heard by now that the chemical that gives microwave popcorn that yummy buttery taste is bad for you. Toxic. It could cause "popcorn lung".
Really. All those complaints from workers in microwave popcorn factories whose lungs are trashed and need transplants are really real. The chemical is called diacetyl and it occurs naturally in wine and some dairy products, but it's the synthetic version that's coming under fire right now. Con-Agra, the largest manufacturer of microwave popcorn, has already said that they're going to take diacetyl out of the formula. But, I wonder, what they're going to put in to replace it and how long is it going to take?
Granted, it's not like someone stocks their pantry with cases of microwave popcorn and heats up a few packages a day, but then someone might. Who knew that popcorn could be dangerous? They weren't kidding when they say to watch for steam burns when you open the bag, but that's not all you need to watch for. The chemical is released when you open bags of freshly popped microwave popcorn, and apparently a large supplier of popcorn has died and the disease he had has been linked to this situation. And his daughter and son-in-law who took over the business that he had are also sick - from the popcorn oil they used.
Why are we hearing about this now? Because there is finally a case of a consumer who has developed popcorn lung from microwaving popcorn to eat several times a day. I should think that if someone is microwaving popcorn several times a day they have more to worry about than popcorn lung. Weight problems, or high cholesterol, or any other number of things, but popcorn lung? If this guy hadn't developed it, we probably would still be in the dark.
Should we panic? Well, as a consumer we're out in the cold because the EPA won't say how much diacetyl is released when a bag of popcorn is opened. They're only discussing that among themselves and with the companies that make popcorn. So we'll just have to wait for some kind hearted executive who thinks that the world should know to leak the info to the press and then we'll know what sort of hot water we're really in.
Everyone will panic because their favorite Styrofoam like treat won't taste like butter anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love popcorn and I like a little butter flavor on it every once in a while. My kids *love* buttered popcorn and I still haven't made it for them with *real* butter yet. I know, I'm a terrible mommy.
I have some microwave popcorn in the pantry, but I'll probably be going through it rather quickly (or not) and not getting any more until I hear the reformulated stuff is on the shelves. Why tempt fate, right? But I'll still make my popcorn on the stove and be happy doing it....
...after all, that's what kids are for - to turn the crank on the stove top popper.