Toxic Microwave Popcorn

Researchers say butter flavoring used in some microwavable popcorn may be toxic.

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Chemicals that add butter flavor to some brands of microwave popcorn might be unsafe for human consumption, according to new research from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Researchers examined a butter-flavoring substitute known as 2,3-pentanedione and found toxicity levels almost identical to those of diacetyl, a butter substitute that has caused illness in microwave popcorn factory workers across the country. Exposure to diacetyl has been proven to cause debilitating and potentially fatal lung diseases, according to government food safety officials. Last week, investigators from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health performed a health hazard evaluation at a General Mills plant and found concentrations of 2,3-pentanedione in several products.