A freshly-popped bag of microwave popcorn
A freshly-popped bag of microwave popcorn - 


Scott Jagow: Diacetyl doesn't sound like something you'd wanna eat, but that's what gives microwave popcorn its buttery flavor. Still, the three biggest popcorn companies are vowing to get rid of it. Dan Grech explains why.

Dan Grech: A furniture salesman showed up earlier this year in a Denver hospital with an odd lung disease.

On a hunch, pulmonologist Cecile Rose asked whether he ate a lot of microwave popcorn. He did: Three bags a day for 10 years.

Dr. Rose concluded it was enough exposure to give him Popcorn Lung, something until now only found in popcorn workers exposed to massive amounts of the buttery fumes.

Wall Street Journal health blogger Jacob Goldstein asked Dr. Rose whether microwave popcorn's unsafe.

Jacob Goldstein: And she said, she still eats it at home with her kids sometimes, and that the levels of exposure in industrial workers over time are much higher.

Still, the nation's top popcorn makers plan to replace the chemical with a safer alternative in the coming year.

How about butter?

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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