It seems that everything we buy nowadays is either packed with preservatives, fat, sugar, or some ingredient that we can’t even pronounce. And most of the time we choose to numb that little voice in our heads telling us “don’t eat it, it’s not good for you,” because well, life is hard and sometimes we need that pack of cookies just to get us through the day. But if there is one additive that you should really be avoiding and cutting out from your diet today, it’s TBHQ.

TBHQ is one one of the worst ingredients that can be found in many products that are available on most supermarket shelves. TBHQ which stand for “Tertiary butylhydroquinone,” is a very toxic ingredient that companies add to food products to preserve them. Vani Hari, the food expert who discussed in her book The Food Babe Way the dangers of TBHQ, highlighted how only a small amount of such ingredient can cause so many health issues, “it’s a chemical that’s created from butane (a very toxic gas) and that it can only be used at a rate of 0.02 percent,” said Hari in her book.

Let’s try to simplify this, it’s a toxic gas and just using a bit of extra small amount of it, as little as 1 gram can lead to health problems in children; like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), asthma, allergies, dermatitis and dizziness. Hari also mentions that high dosage of TBHQ can even lead to stomach cancer when tested on laboratory animals. There are a lot of loopholes as to why the FDA allows the use of TBHQ in America, but this additive is banned for use in food in other countries including Japan. It has also been listed by the Center For Science in The Public Interest as one of the worst additives to be avoided in our food.

Some of the foods that are known to have TBHQ in their ingredients list are :

  • Chicken nuggets
  • Poptarts and Special K pastry crisps
  • Cinnabon cinnamon rolls
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfinger, and Snickers
  • Some cereal brands
  • Some peanut butter products
  • Microwave popcorn

So, what should be done? 

Avoiding TBHQ isn’t easy because it’s not always listed on the label, especially in our Egyptian made store-bought products that sometimes don’t list any ingredients to begin with. However many companies do list TBHQ, so you can start by screening the ingredient list of the imported products to make sure that they don’t include the harmful preservative.

Our ideal advice is; try to find alternatives for those products such as homemade popcorn instead of microwave popcorn, and homemade baked cinnamon rolls instead of the store bought product. However, we know that this is not the most practical solution and it’s hard to maintain on the long run. Thankfully, now with the boost of upcoming healthy brands for snacks such as Raw Republic, CleanBars, and Fino’s Nutbutters, its becoming much easier to know the ingredients in your food.

We gave you our input on this, so the next time you head to buy that pack of chips or that jar of peanut butter, make sure you know what’s really in it.