Study Finds Popcorn Butter Alternatives Also Toxic


Image via: Jmacphoto.com on Flickr.com

Just a few short years ago, famed popcorn label Orville Redenbacher said it would eliminate all diacetyl (the chemical in alternative butter that is linked with health problems in many workers, possibly a few deaths and destroying the lungs of popcorn addicts) from popcorn. Soon popcorn makers everywhere followed suit, removing diacetyl and replacing it with newer, safer butter alternatives. Turns out now those alternatives are really just another form of diacetyl and this time even the lawyers are agreeing, reports Sphere News. The diacetyl alternatives, release diacetyl when they are heated or in the presence of water. Next, the diacetyl alternatives are considered a "natural material" which is great for all of those green marketing campaigns advertising popcorn with "newer, safer butter alternatives." A lawyer for the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association says he has encouraged manufacturers to not state that their products are diacetyl-free or to even use these alternatives, but without government regulation to back this up, these are merely suggestions. At this time, the Obama Administration is looking into it but has said they don't plan any results or decisions for another year. Manufacturers won't talk specifics on what they use for butter alternatives because competition in the popcorn market is fierce.

Workers exposed to diacetyl often come down with bronchiolitis obliterans, which destroys the small airways in the lungs. The only solution when a worker contracts it: a single or double lung bypass. Current Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says that this is inexcusable particularly because it is preventable. The Labor Department has new plans for worker health and safety, and specifically mentions eliminating diacetyl but those plans are still under review. In the meantime, maybe homemade popcorn with your own topping is best. :Sphere News

Thanks Tipster Martha!

More on Diacetyl
ConAgra and Others Dropping Butter Flavoring Agent, Diacetyl, After USEPA Consumer-Exposure Study Reviewed
Eat the Finest Organic Popcorn
Microwave Popcorn: The Next Asbestos
Should You Cook With a Microwave or Stove?

Tags: Diseases | Toxins

Best of TreeHugger