Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Healthy Change #2: Don't Eat Microwave Popcorn

The smell of popcorn can fill a room.  It's been touted as a healthy snack for years.  It's a favorite of kids and adults alike and often a safe snack alternative for many allergy kids. Or is it??

In my recent research, I'm finding that the risk of eating microwave popcorn isn't exactly new news; however, it hasn't exactly been a top news story at my house.  Maybe not at your house either.  My husband recently forwarded me a link to an article written the end of last year on the Top 7 Foods that Should Never Cross Your Lips.  One of those was microwave popcorn.  We very rarely eat popcorn at our house.  I don't like the smell or taste unless it's coated with caramel and comes in a decorative tin (which means I don't eat much of it, it's not safe for Abigail or good for me).  However, my husband and daughter enjoy it so when we make it, we use kernels out of a jar and microwave them in a special microwave popping bowl.  But there are lots of you out there that throw in a bag for a quick snack.  Here's why you shouldn't.

The author of the article on contacted Dr. Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, to explain the dangers in the lining of the popcorn bag.  According to Dr. Naidenko, a recent study from UCLA has found that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found in the lining are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans.  According to the article, in animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular and pancreatic cancer.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

"Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then." 

Microwave popcorn was in the news back in 2007 (I missed this also) when it was found that factory workers inhaling large amounts of the chemical used for the buttery flavoring were developing lung diseases then termed "popcorn lung".  Prior to that, in 2005, the public was made aware that large popcorn manufacturers used Teflon in the the lining of the paper bags so the heated kernels wouldn't stick.  In a paper titled "Just the popcorn please - No Teflon chemicals for me", the author writes that the Teflon when heated to a high temperature quickly can break down into a toxic chemical, PFOA, and that PFOA is suspected to cause cancer in humans.  Some popcorn manufacturers have since removed Teflon, but not all of them.

I found a healthier and much cheaper method using a brown paper lunch bag.  Place a quarter cup of good quality kernels in the bottom of the bag.  You can add oil and seasoning before or after.  Fold the top of the bag at least twice and microwave for two to three minutes.  I haven't tried this yet, but definitely will the next time we pop popcorn.  If you have, be sure to comment and let me know how it turned out.

Also, if you find an organic popcorn that is safe for Abigail, i.e., not manufactured with other products containing peanuts and tree nuts, let me know.  Harris Teeter has one that's actually cheaper than the conventional Orville Redenbacher's, but it's not safe.  I won't buy the OR brand because it's owned by Con Agra Foods, and as mentioned in an earlier post, I'm personally boycotting them because they wouldn't tell me if food they manufacturer and sell is safe for my daughter's peanut allergy.

So, Change #2...Don't eat microwave popcorn.  Try making your own instead.  Happy Popping and don't forget to enter to win my give-away!

Post Note:  1/18/10  We played a family game and thought the perfect treat would be a big bowl of popcorn.  We used the paper bag method, and it worked perfectly!  I put 1/4 cup of popcorn and 1 tablespoon of Safflower oil in a paper bag, shook it to distribute the oil, rolled the top of the bag twice, put it on a plate (the oil seeps through some) and popped it for 2 minutes in the microwave.  After taking it out, I added a little cheese seasoning, shook it to mix and the family loved it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will definately try the brown bag option, since my son is allergic to microwave popcorn.