A federal court has awarded a Denver man $7.2 million because he contracted “popcorn lung” from microwave popcorn.
As reported by NPR’s food blog, “The Salt,” Wayne Watson – a furniture salesman from Denver, Colorado – claimed to have contracted “popcorn lung” from eating about two bags of Kroger brand microwave popcorn a day for about 10 years. “Popcorn lung” is a nickname for a serious respiratory illness. In Watson’s case, he says “popcorn lung” has left him with about 53 percent lung capacity.
The ingredient in the popcorn that’s being blamed is a chemical called diacetyl. Diacetyl is used in many foods to create a dairy flavor. Many who work in plants that produce the chemical have seen many forms of respiratory illnesses, however ,Watson is the only to have made a successful case regarding health issues from eating small amounts of the product.
The Kroger company plans to appeal the recent court decision, arguing that Watson’s work with carpet chemicals is to blame, not the popcorn.
More lawsuits are expected to surface from this case and more light will surely be shed on the artificial flavoring business. Currently, there are very few regulations on these types of substances. Therefore, potentially harmful ingredients are being sold in your local grocery stores right now.
These stories are frightening and frustrating. In times like these, it’s possibly best to rely on the old rule of “if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, don’t eat it.”
Popcorn can be a wonderful, healthy snack. However, it’s probably best to use an air popper or just use a pinch of healthy oil and pop the kernels on the stovetop. This way you’ll ensure it’s safe, delicious, and contains no risk of contracting “popcorn lung.”