Isn't That Teflon in Your Microwave Popcorn?


PopcornGlenn Evers, a former DuPont Co. engineer, has accused the chemical giant of deliberately ignoring evidence that its grease-resistant coating on paper products may have been entering consumers' blood at high  levels.


Evers first became concerned about the health effects of a perfluorinated chemical used for food packaging in 1987, when company tests showed it was dissolving into wet paper at much higher levels than the FDA had approved. When the paper coating is dissolved and absorbed into the human body, it breaks down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a likely carcinogen.

DuPont has denied Evers's allegations, The FDA will also soon decide how much to fine DuPont for failing to report for more than 20 years' possible health effects associated with PFOA.

Millions of Bags of Popcorn

Meanwhile, an FDA study has revealed that PFOA could be present in millions of bags of microwave popcorn. This alone could account for over 20 percent of the PFOA levels present in the average U.S. citizen.

Most Americans have 4-5 parts per billion of PFOA in their blood; the source has been largely unknown. Products such as nonstick cookware such as Teflon pans, which are produced by a process that uses PFOA, are thought to play a role.

Fluorotelomer Coatings

The FDA found that microwave popcorn bags are treated with more grease-repelling fluorotelomer coatings than any other food wrappers. Many of these coatings contain mixtures of long-chain chemicals that can be metabolized to PFOA.

A significant amount of the fluorotelomers transferred from the bags to the popcorn oil. Microwave popcorn bags are particularly dangerous, because not only is the amount of fluorotelomers in the coatings is high, but because popcorn bags get very hot, heating to more than 200 degrees Celsius in a short time. This significantly increases the chances of the fluorotelomers entering the food itself.

Environmental Science and Technology November 16, 2005

Washington Post November 17, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Maybe you have the impression of Teflon that I used to have. How could anything so pervasive and useful possibly be harmful? If it were the government certainly would not allow this on the market. Besides, it is just too diffcult and time wasting to stop using non-stick pans.

Well, if this is your current thought process, time to reconsider. I first started becoming alerted to this problem a few years ago and then earlier this year Gary Craig reported amazing anecdotal improvements for a chronic health problem once he threw away his Teflon pans. Then we started receiving many other similar reports.

What really seals this issue is the federal government nailed DuPont late last month for LYING about Teflon. They knew it caused health problems for many years but never told the truth about. The government is now deciding if they will fine them 1/3 of a billion dollars for not reporting that Teflon posed substantial risk of injury to health or the environment.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) -- the dangerous chemical used to make Teflon -- can be difficult to avoid, as it likely coats both the non-stick cookware with which you prepare meals and the paper plates you use to eat them.

Fortunately many are starting to pay attention to this; Evers testimony in a recent trial may have pushed his former company to settle with thousands of Ohio and West Virginia residents whose tap water had been contaminated with PFOA.

Aside from the issue of not using anything in the microwave, it is probably best to avoid grains like corn as it will raise your insulin levels. Additionally, nearly all corn is genetically modified.

Your best protection against PFOA is to throw away those non-stick pans and avoid them elsewhere as much as you can. But, if you must continue to use them, avoid doing so at high heat as that will volatilize this potentially dangerous chemical.

It also sounds like it's a good idea to stay away from microwave popcorn. So, if you're looking for healthier snacks for your family to munch on during the holidays, you'll want to review Colleen Huber's awesome list of safe and tasty treats.

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