It’s been banned in Japan since 1958, yet it’s used in numerous food products throughout the United States. It lurks in plastic packaging, processed foods and children’s pre-packaged lunches. You may not even know it’s there, but you should. It’s an antioxidant food additive, more often termed a preservative in consumer lingo. It’s BHT, and it’s potentially harmful to unwitting consumers across the continent.
Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) can be found in everything from packaged foods and cosmetics down to jet fuel and embalming fluid. What was that? Embalming fluid? At this point, I would say something doesn’t look right. In Bill Stantham’s What’s in Your Food, he cites potential side effects of BHT as chronic hives, dermatitis, fatigue, asthma, aggressive behavior, bronchospasm, and complications with the stomach, liver, kidneys and reproduction. It’s not recommended for children and infants, and it is a possible carcinogen. To make matters worse…it’s toxic to aquatic organisms (Running Press, 2007). Can you say “one fishy, two fishy…no fishy?” But of course there should be no worries, as we all know how superb big business is at disposing of waste products, right?
The U.S. has advised BHT no longer be used in infant food, but what about the rest of us? I’m sure SOMEDAY the FDA will rise up and remove BHT from foods being ingested and applied to the body. Until then, look carefully at ingredient labels. And while we’re looking into ingredients, here’s something else to think on. The U.S. still insists that BHT is safe for human consumption at recommended levels. Yet Japan determined this product to be illegal all the way back in the 50’s. Now, a fad in Japanese culture is the popular Miracle fruit, a fruit that is itself not sweet but that when eaten with unsweetened deserts affects the taste buds and can make the desert taste as though it is the best sweet treat ever. Its affects linger for at least fifteen minutes. Could be a miracle for diabetics, right? Well, the U.S. allows the growth and sale of Miracle fruit, but prohibits anyone from marketing and advertising that they sell it. So in the famous words of Ben Stein I ask “Anyone, Anyone?” It’s possible that the BHT debate falls outside of politics and economics. It’s possible that the nature of the FDA can not be interpreted in comparison to other countries regulations. It’s possible that they are looking out for the public good. It’s possible…but not probable.