When I first started reading ingredient lists I noticed that many items contained BHT and/or BHA. What does this stand for? Bad, horrible, and terrible? Bad, horrible, and awful? Well, yes they are. BHT is butylated hydroxytoluene and BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole. These ingredients are made from coal tar or petroleum and are used to preserve fats (basically to keep them from going rancid). BHT is also used to preserve food odor, color, and flavor. BHT is used as embalming fluid and used in jet fuel. Do you want this in your FOOD? I don’t! According to About.com “The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity” (that means the creation of cancer). The article goes on to state, “There is evidence that certain persons may have difficulty metabolizing BHA and BHT, resulting in health and behavior changes.”
BHT and BHA are banned in almost every other country EXCEPT for the US and BHA is considered a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization and listed as a carcinogen in California! This should be a huge red flag. (The fact that it is banned from being used in baby food because it causes hyperactivity in children is also a red flag!)
BHT and BHA are found in many foods: cereals, snack foods, chewing gum, pies, cakes, processed meats, beer, butter, baked goods, dehydrated potatoes, and many many more. It is also found in animal feed, food packaging, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber products, and petroleum products. In fact, I recently started reading labels of non-food items as well and I found BHT in my Bath and Body Works lotion and shower gel. Evidently it’s in many body products as I have found it in several things in our bathroom. UGH! Even worse, the other day I looked at the ingredient list on my Children’s Dye-Free Advil and it contains BHT (among other dangerous chemicals!)!! And don’t even get me started on the arguments that the amount is too small to cause health issues. It is bioaccumulative! So yes, while you might not die right away from ingesting rat poison how much would you have to ingest and for how long? Well, I don’t want to find out!
The first food items that I found in our house containing BHT were our cereals. I noticed that almost all of our Kellogg’s cereals said, “BHT added to packaging for freshness.” My mouth hit the floor because I had been giving my kids this cereal. So I began researching to find out if there were cereals out there that had a better option and I found a healthier choice. Vitamin E (usually listed as mixed tocopherals) is a natural alternative to BHT/BHA. I also found that many of General Mills cereals tend to use natural Vitamin E instead of the dangerous synthetic BHT.
While doing research for this post I read many articles. I found 2 articles particularly helpful and I want to post the links for you so you can check them out too. Don’t just take my word for it. Do your own research!
As I mentioned in my first post our family is taking baby steps. So we have decided to no longer buy any food containing BHT and/or BHA. Right now we are buying cereal with Vitamin E and hope to eventually switch to organic cereal (since even the cereals without BHT/BHA still likely contain GMOs).
Update: I found this link very helpful because it lists a few cereals that do not contain BHT. Trader Joe’s cereals also do not contain BHT or artificial colors. http://www.greenplaterule.com/health-nutrition/best-cereals/