Popcorn, The Death Dealer

Microwave popcorn, it turns out, is not a healthy snack. It’s a deadly snack.

You’ve all heard the stories of factory workers coming down with the rare lung disease due to prolonged exposure to the fumes from the artificial butter additive, diacetyl. That disease is bronchiolitis obliterans, in which the tiny airways of the lung are obliterated.

This disease first appeared somewhere around 1985 in workers in food-flavor factories.


Thought I’d repeat that in case you thought it was a typo. Seems a long time to know about something and not do a damned thing about it.

Granted it wasn’t until 2002 that the disease started appearing among microwave popcorn workers.

But they’ve kept assuring us that diacetyl was safe for consumption. Only the fumes are unsafe and supposedly only factory workers are exposed to those fumes.

Don’t tell that to Wayne Watson of Colorado though.

Wayne is a confirmed popcorn addict. He eats two bags of the stuff a day and has for 10 years. After he pops it, he opens the bags and deeply inhales that delectable delicious artificial buttery scented steam.

And he was getting shortness of breath. His doctor diagnosed him with bronchiolitis obliterans. Yes, that disease we’ve been assured only happens to factory workers, not the average citizens who just enjoy a bag or two of popcorn.

Air quality testing at the Wayne’s house showed that while microwaving the popcorn the diacetyl in the air reached levels similar to those of the factories where the popcorn was made.

Once again the FDA, EPA, and pretty much all our government officials have dropped the ball and allowed a known dangerous chemical to be used for far too long, assuring us it was safe.

Wayne’s popcorn lung is improving since he was told by doctors to stop snacking on the fake buttery goodness and switch to fruits and veggies. He’s also lost 35 pounds. Bonus.

Personally, I’ve never liked the smell of microwave popcorn. The smell has always turned me off. And now I know why. It’s the smell of death.

Makes me glad I’ve always made my popcorn from scratch with real butter.


2 thoughts on “Popcorn, The Death Dealer

  1. Oh baby, fresh popcorn made on the stove – with no butter and very light salt! I’m in heaven.

    I did hear about this a few years ago, when someone at work was nuking some popcorn, and I couldn’t believe something that deadly was in our food and not being recalled or changed or something. But as it turns out, it WAS true. I’d think the government is trying to kill us all off one by one, but these are slow deaths that only serve to tax the healthcare system – so there isn’t even that logic to fall back on.

    I tell you what, though — a few years ago my Father gave me one of these little stove-top popcorn poppers, where you put in this gourmet popcorn, just a “touch” of oil, then turn this crank around and around over the gas burner. Three minutes later you a have healthy, fresh, tasty treat. Absolutely yummy. Add a tiny pinch of salt, no butter . . .yum.

    I don’t even own a microwave.

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