Back as early as 2007, Orville Redenbacher announced that it would no longer be using diacetyl in it’s microwave popcorn. Diacetyl, in case you didn’t know it, is the “artificial” in “artificial butter flavor” and was responsible for several deaths and health issues for many more people who worked for companies that make and package microwave popcorn. Additionally, a small number of consumers who ate a lot of microwave popcorn also suffered adverse respiratory problems. Turns out this stuff is the chemical equivalent to asbestos.
All’s good though, because microwave popcorn manufacturers stopped using it, right? Not so fast! Turns out the substitute they’ve been using isn’t any better and is, actually just another form of diacetyl. Oops!
Now to compound the problem, a new study published in the “Chemical Research in Toxicology” has found links between diacetyl and Alzheimer’s disease. Turns out it creates protein clumps in the brain which is the way Alzheimer’s work apparently.
Diacetyl in it’s natural form is fine. It is a natural by-product of fermentation and is present in any alcoholic beverage. It’s also what gives butter it’s flavor. The problem comes in when it is added as a powder and ingested through the lungs. It essentially destroys the lungs over time.
To date, nothing has been done to ban it in food so it’s basically up to you and me to make the right choice and stop purchasing products that add it. If it isn’t profitable to make these products, the companies that make them will stop making them and replace the diacetyl with something else, something that hopefully isn’t going to kill us. One can only hope without getting our hopes up too high.