Concerns have been raised about the use of BHT in food products. The compound has been banned for use in food in Japan (1958), Romania, Sweden, and Australia. The US has barred it from being used in infant foods. Some food industries have voluntarily eliminated it from their products, including McDonald’s as of 1986. In spite of these precautions, BHT is marketed as a health food supplement in capsule form. Additionally, Cadbury Adams continues to use it in Chiclets and some types of Trident gum; Diamonds Foods, Inc of California also uses it in their nuts. Sun Pharmaceuticals, using the brand Banana Boat, uses it in their facial sunblock stick. Quaker Oats also uses it in their Granola Bites, and is used in many breakfast cereals. Nabisco foods puts BHT in their packaging “To help preserve product freshness” of such products as Wheat Thins.
Are BHA and BHT safe?
Both BHA and BHT have undergone the additive application and review process required by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, the same chemical properties which make BHA and BHT excellent preservatives may also be implicated in health effects. The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity; however the same reactions may combat oxidative stress. There is evidence that certain persons may have difficulty metabolizing BHA and BHT, resulting in health and behavior changes. BHA and BHT may have antiviral and antimicrobial activities. Research is underway concerning the use of BHT in the treatment of herpes simplex and AIDS.