Okay, well not popcorn exactly. But certainly the butter flavoring called diacetyl has been linked to respiratory illnesses. Specifically bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare life-threatening disease often called popcorn lung. The results of this disease are quite serious.
Related to this is the recent finding of a popcorn consumer who had come down with popcorn lung.
Wayne Watson, 53, of Centennial, Colo., said he ate two or three bags of microwave popcorn every day for at least 10 years. In an interview with The Associated Press at his home late Wednesday, Watson said he is convinced his heavy consumption of popcorn caused his health problems.
Watson, who since February 2006 has been treated as an outpatient at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, where his condition was diagnosed, pantomimed how he would open the bag at chest level, look down and breathe in the fumes.
Dr. Cecile Rose, a lung specialist at the hospital, said in an interview Wednesday that until Watson’s condition was diagnosed, it had deteriorated, despite a CAT scan, steroid treatment and a biopsy.
Finally, Rose said, “I turned to the patient and said, ‘This is a very weird question … but have you been around a lot of popcorn?’ And his jaw dropped and he said, ‘How could you know that about me? Popcorn is my exclusive snack food preference. I am popcorn. I’m at least a two-pack a day user.’
“I was really surprised and relieved,” Rose said.
In response to all of this, Conagra has agreed to remove diacetyl from their microwavable popcorns. Weaver Popcorn of Indianapolis, has also said it would replace the butter flavoring ingredient because of consumer concern.
No word yet from other Popcorn makers.