Microwave Popcorn Wrapped in Harmful Substances

9. jul 2015

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has tested the packaging of nine bags of microwave popcorn. All of them contain substances hazardous to health.

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Microwave popcorn with fluorinated chemichals
Photo: Istock

Popcorn packaging contains fluorinated chemicals

In May 2015 the Danish supermarket chain COOP ceased to sell microwave popcorn in its shops. The reason being that it could not offer its customers popcorns without harmful fluorinated chemicals in the packaging.

A test conducted by the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals confirms that it is close to impossible for consumers to buy microwave popcorn without fluorinated chemicals. In the test all of the nine brands of popcorn contain fluorinated chemicals in the packaging.

“We do not know everything about these substances. But we know enough to conclude that they do not belong in wrapping for food. We would be happy to see more companies follow COOP’s lead and remove microwave popcorn from the shelves. That is a way to apply pressure on the manufacturers to find alternatives until hopefully these substances are banned sooner rather than later,” says Stine Müller, project manager in the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals.

Fluorinated chemicals increase risk of miscarriage

There are many different kinds of fluorinated chemicals and the amount of research conducted varies from substance to substance.

In the so-called Madrid Statement of 2015 a number of leading scientists in the field warn about replacing the fluorinated chemicals – which we know to be problematic – with new fluorinated chemicals that can be at least as harmful as the old ones. Instead the scientists urge the industry and authorities to reduce the use of all fluorinated chemicals to an absolute minimum.

A research project from the University of Southern Denmark in April 2015 revealed that some fluorinated chemicals can increase the risk of miscarriage by up to 16 times. Furthermore the substances can be cancer-causing and are suspected to be endocrine disrupting. Fluorinated chemicals are non-biodegradable and accumulate in the human body and environment over time. 

An unnecessary risk

The harmful substances in the packaging have a great risk of ending up in the popcorn bowl, earlier research shows. Heat and fat provide excellent conditions for the fluorinated chemicals to migrate into the popcorns during heating in the microwave oven.

“It is not the single night of eating microwave popcorn that is the problem. However it contributes to the amassed amount of fluorinated chemicals that we are exposed to and thereby increases the health risk. As long as there is no alternative without fluorinated chemicals available, we recommend that consumers leave the microwave popcorns on the shelves,” says Stine Müller.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals recommends that consumers make popcorns on the stove instead of in the microwave oven.

If you have any questions concerning the test, please contact project manager in the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals Stine Müller on phone (0045) 41 94 79 06 or e-mail sm@fbr.dk.

The nine tested brands microwave popcorn was:

  • Budget 3-pak mikropopcorn, (found in Føtex)
  • Flying pop-corn 6 pack microwave popcorn, (found in Netto)
  • Micro popcorn saltede mikrobølgepopcorn classic, (found in Fakta (Fakta does not sell the brand anymore))
  • The Original Snack Food´s Økologiske micro popcorn (found in SuperBest)
  • The Snack Saltede mikropopcorn (found in SuperBest)
  • REMA 1000 Mikro popcorn med salt (found in REMA 100)
  • First Price Mikropopcorn saltede (found in Kiwi)
  • Mcennedy  Microwave popcorn salted (found in Lidl)
  • Joe´s  Micro popcorn (found in Aldi)

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