What’s poppin’ in Denmark? Popcorn with safer packaging

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The full article by Brian Bienkowski was originally written for the Environmental Health News

Denmark’s largest retailer isn’t waiting for regulators to catch up with science, aims to phase out “the dirty dozen” linked to harmful health impacts.

If you were looking to toss some popcorn in your microwave in Denmark this past summer, the popular movie snack wasn’t easy to find.

That’s because the country’s largest retailer months earlier yanked microwave popcorn off its more than 1,200 stores because suppliers couldn’t come up with a way to rid the packaging of fluorinated chemicals. The chemicals are not regulated in Denmark but are linked to certain cancers, hormone disruption, organ problems and lower birth weights, and found in the linings of popcorn bags.

Manufacturers use fluorinated compounds in popcorn bags so the paper in the bag doesn’t quickly degrade after contacting the butter in the popcorn and, unlike previously used solutions such as wax, the chemicals can withstand microwave heat.

“There was just no solution in the world in popcorn,” said Malene Teller Blume, department manager of chemistry and nonfood at Coop Denmark.

But then something happened: innovation. Just last week, Coop Denmark unveiled fluorinated-free microwave popcorn, made by Spanish snack company Liven.

The supplier came up with stronger paper for the bag, relied on the natural cellulose, which, after being boiled for a longer time, became impermeable to the fat, so the bag didn’t need to be coated with the fluorinated chemicals.

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What’s poppin’ in Denmark? Popcorn with safer packaging