Friday, March 9, 2012

BHT Food Preservative

When I picked our son up from school, his teacher said they gave him some popcorn because the ingredient list appeared "safe" other than BHT.  And she didn't know what BHT was (most don't).

I said, "No biggy.  He won't puke on it.  It's only lighter fluid."  She was shocked, but there is some element of truth as it also serves as an antioxidant for  petroleum products.

BHT, formally known as butylated hydroxytoluene, is a preservative that protects the fat, flavor and color of foods to which it is added.  I've noticed an increasing number of cereals (General Mills is a huge offender) that use this preservative.

BHT should be avoided when possible.  Some studies indicate that BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity (a chemical substance that induces cancer) and tumorigenicity (capable of causing tumors).  Other studies indicate it is difficult for some to metabolize, causing behavioral and heath changes.

The links to adverse health affects are significant enough that BHT is banned from food use in England, Australia, Sweden and Romania.

Butylated hydroxytoleune usually appears as BHT on product ingredient labels.  Like other mystery ingredients, it may be best to avoid it when possible.

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