29 Jul

Let’s talk about preservatives.

I was curious about BHT and BHA–they are very closely related chemicals.  I noticed them showing up on many food labels.  Have you looked at any of your cereal box labels yet?  Let me tell you about why I miss eating all of my favorite cerelas from my childhood.

About a month ago, I really wanted a sugary, yummy cereal –I was ready to buy something like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Captain Crunch, or Cocoa something.  I picked up the first box and –to my surprise–BHT was an ingredient.  I thought, “hey no big deal, I will just get a different kind of sugary cereal.”  Sadly, EVERY box I picked up had BHT listed as the final ingredient!  I went home with no cereal–not even a “healthy” one!

It looked like it the cereal makers also realized that the words BHT (which does not sound like something you eat, right?) might discourage buyers. I am guessing that is why they listed BHT on the label like this:

“BHT-added to preserve freshness”

Oh, well if it makes it fresh, it must not be that bad for me–wrong!


Are BHT and BHA safe?

You can be the judge of this one, but I am not comfortable eating anything, or using anything, that has these chemicals in it.  Wikipedia states that “[BHT] has been banned for use in food in Japan (1958), Romania, Sweden, and
Australia. The US has barred it from infant foods.”  So our US government thinks that it’s okay for everyone but infants. And other governments don’t think it’s safe for anyone–enough to ban it’s use.  That’s a red flag to me.

BHt and BHA have been shown to cause cancer and tumors in numerous studies.  Even though it has been shown to be safe for use by the USDA, many people have reactions to BHT and BHA.  I’m not taking my chances on this one.


Where are BHT and BHA found?

Almost all cereals now have BHT in them, and I even found some in the tortillas I bought from a local company, Sinaloa. (Update 8/9: Sinaloa emailed me that they no longer use BHT and although it stills appears on the packaging, they are just using old containers until new ones are ordered). The nice thing is that they are on food labels, so unlike GMOs, they are much easier to spot and weed out from your diet.

Also, BTW, I also found BHT in my Nuetrogena Cosmetics Bronzer–and I threw it away once I noticed.  BHT and BHA are in many more things than just food. It is also found in packaging, pharmaceutical drugs and other common items.


How do I avoid BHT and BHA?

It’s simple–read the labels on your food.  Make sure they are listed.  If you cosmetics or pharmaceutical drugs have listed ingredients or additives, check those too.  Check before you buy and don’t waste your money! Check out our list of products and suggested alternatives.

Oh, and if you were wondering, I was able to fulfill my sugary cereal craving after all–minus the BHT.  Check out Envriokids cereal.  It is not quite as sweet but does the trick!

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  1. BHT in Your Food. What is it? | Inside Your Food - August 1, 2012

    [...] BHT and BHA | Natural Food Mama [...]

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