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Microwave Popcorn: Flavored with Perflourooctanoic Acid!

03.17.11 Microwave Popcorn: Flavored with Perflourooctanoic Acid!

microwave popcorn

Some things are, in fact, too good to be true. The days of 2.5 minutes to popcorn are over, at least for now. While it lasted, I'll admit I loved how easy it was to make impromptu popcorn in the microwave. I also enjoyed not having to clean an extra oily pan.

So why is microwave popcorn harmful? Designed to prevent oil from leaking through the bag, conventional microwave popcorn has a coating (the same one that's used on non-stick cookware) on the inside of the bag: a chemical called flouorotelemor (PFC) that can break down to form perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).  Hmm, doesn't sound too appetizing. When heated, as it is surely doing in a microwave, the PFOA can migrate into the food. PFOA has been linked to both cancer and birth defects in animals and epidemiological studies suggest that they may reduce baby's birth weight in utero. Also of concern, new studies by Environmental Health Perspectives have shown links from high levels of PFOA to higher rates of thyroid disease.

The EPA's scientific advisory board has recommended that PFC be listed as a "likely human carcinogen". Another unsettling fact: some perflourinated compounds are extremely persistent and never break down in the environment. Exposure to them could result in a long lasting presence of an unwanted chemical in your body.  

Good News!?! The EPA has asked manufacturers to work towards eliminating PFOA from products by 2015. We think the best alternative is the stove-top method, popping kernals yourself in some heart healthy oil and preferably using a stainless steel or ceramic pan. The MightyNest team is also looking into another method: popping kernals in the microwave using a glass and silicone popper. We'll keep you updated on this one.

What are your favorite recipes for dressing popcorn? Spicy? Sweet?

UPDATE: We found it, a safe microwave popcorn popper made from silicone and glass!

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