We try to avoid too much discussion on the bad aspects of typical microwave popcorn. It’s just negative, and I’m getting the feeling that everyone already gets it. That said, the results from a study that link poor immune system response and PFC (and PFOA) are too interesting to keep to myself.
(PFOA is a chemical within the group of chemicals called PFCs. So in this context, the terms can be used somewhat interchangeably.)
Microwave popcorn bags are typically coated with PFCs to keep oil from soaking through the kraft paper bag. PFCs are lipophobic, which means that fat (oil) beads up on contact the same way water does on your brand new winter jacket. It’s basically Scotchgard for popcorn bags. It’s also a toxin…
A little history… In the late 90’s the FDA got a little worried. After conducting tests, it became clear that just about everyone in the US has some amount of the industrial chemical PFOA in their bloodstream. It shouldn’t be there. It’s not naturally occuring, it’s a carcinogen, liver toxicant, developmental toxicant, and an immune system toxicant. But how did the entire country get exposed?! There were a few potential pathways, but toward the top of the list…microwave popcorn bags.
The Journal of the American Medical Association just published another study on PFCs and it’s heat effects. The study showed that the typical bloodstream concentrations of PFCs reduced immune system response in children. In the study’s author’s words,
“What we found was that PFCs in the human body are associated with a deficient immune response to childhood immunizations. Children are less capable of maintaining an antibody concentration in the blood, which helps prevent getting the disease.” (PBS story)
There many other studies that point to various health effects of this chemical group. This study has already been covered by PBS, NBC, CNN, and many others. This kind of news would sink a typical product. Through all the terrible PR, microwave popcorn has always soldiered on, making little or no changes. This newest study will not result in any official response from the big microwave popcorn companies. Nothing will happen. Just crazy…
All of that is why we started Quinn Popcorn. The thing is, our popcorn company isn’t going to succeed because the other stuff is terrible. It has to be amazing if we are going to stick around. So, enough talking about what’s wrong with them, and back to figuring out how to make our popcorn better.