Before I get to the promised post on BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) please let me give you some background information on us, our tribe.
It was some years ago, around 2005, that we became concerned with our health, mainly what we were putting into our body. Like many we zealously jumped on the 100% organic food train. I, the mama, was making weekly 1 1/2 hour trips to an Amish farm where we were legally contracted to purchase raw dairy and raw dairy products as well as grass fed meat. This trip also included a visit to our local CSA, where we were shareholders in exchange for fresh produce. And the only other store we made food purchases in were the health food store. Um yeah, we had become food snobs. But in all of this we gleaned an understanding of farming practices and I as the cook became very adaptive in using what we had to come up with meals versus purchasing ingredients to make a said recipe. This is a very different way of looking at food, at least for me it was.
As the tribe grew so did our food budget. We were juicing almost daily, going through boxes of fruit and vegetables weekly. And thus our vision quickly changed from being healthy consumers to being the working farmers. We soon found ourselves on some land, sowing and reaping our own harvests but this is yet another story. The point of this background information is, we have been there. From spending the money to eat almost entirely organic to living off the land (and subsequently being monetarily poor as well). So i tell you this in advance because we know what it's like to prioritize health and the efforts made to do so. But we also know what it is like to live on a very limited income and succumb to those cheaper and not so clean ingredients. Bottom line, there is no judging here.
And because I do not subscribe to fear-mongering, I hope this post is informative just enough to ignite you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions/convictions. As we are in no way doctors or spokespersons for any company but our own.
Now to BHT. According to wikipedia; Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), also known as dibutylhydroxytoluene, is a lipophilic organic compound, chemically a derivative of phenol, that is useful for its antioxidant properties. European and U.S. regulations allow small amounts to be used as a food additive. In addition to this use, BHT is widely used to prevent oxidation in fluids (e.g. fuel, oil) and other materials where free radicals must be controlled.
On the molecular level it looks like this...
BHT is found in cereal, gum, fast food, processed potatoes, drink mixes, shortening, beer, snack foods, and animal feed. It primarily acts as an antioxidant food additive due to its' ability to preserve fats. (Note, this means it is synthetic/fake, not a real antioxidant like when we think of blueberries.) I must disclose the FDA considers this ingredient as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) to use as a food additive up to concentrations of .02%. Which would be just fine if you were not consuming lets say, 3-5 products in any given day that includes this one specific food additive. Additionally the CIR Expert Panel has assessed this ingredient as safe to use in cosmetic products. Needless to say, a great deal of controversy continues to surround this ingredient.
In cosmetics, it's also used as a preservative. As a synthetic antioxidant, it helps fight against the deterioration of cosmetic products caused by chemical reactions with oxygen. It's also known to work synergistically with other antioxidants. It's mostly used in makeup products such as eyeliner, lipstick, blush and foundation, but you can find it in various other cosmetic products like moisturizer, cleanser and perfumes.
Derived from petroleum, it doesn't exactly sound too enviting to me. However, studies can be found to support the use of it as well as it being carcinogenic. Some even report taking it to surpress the herpes virus and HIV. Yet countries like the UK and Japan have banned it. The Center for Science in the Public Interest gives BHT its "caution" label. And if you are interested in what the National Cancer Institute has to say you can find that here. They concluded that BHT was not carcinogenic for F344 rats or B6C3F1 mice.
After all is said and done, my question is why? Why did we come up with this food additive to begin with? Afterall extracts of rosemary and thyme, vitamin E (also called mixed tocopherols), and vitamins C & E are all proven to keep food and cosemetics fresh. And they have many other health benefits as well. TribalMama.com was birthed from harnessing the blessings already bestowed upon us. It is written that we have been given every herb bearing seed upon the earth and he that is wise shall not abhor them. The fruit shall be for meat and the leaf for medicine. There are so many amazing, natural wonders yet to be discovered and utilized here already. As our technology seemingly moves forward and faster folks are finding a real desire to reconnect to the natural world surrounding them. And the simple salad or homemade bar of soap can do just that. Our mission is to formulate and craft products that enrich your body, resonate with your soul, and give peace to your mind.
I should note, in 2015 General Mills removed BHT from their cereals but stated it wasn't due to the ingredient being harmful rather it was to promote their brand of cereal.