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Sunday, January 8, 2012

What is TBHQ?

On Wednesday, we looked into the enriched wheat flour in our peanut butter sandwich crackers. Today, I'm looking at the "TBHQ added for freshness".

What the heck is that?
TBHQ stands for tert-Butylhydroquinone. Sheesh, what a mouthful! It's added to foods like twinkies and chicken nuggets to keep them from going bad for a very, very long time. It's found in most fast food products. However, It's use is limited to less than 0.02% of the oil used in any given twinkie, so the amount you are ingesting (per food item) is very small.

Should I be afraid of it?

In a word, yes. Lab tests have shown that if one gram of TBHQ is taken in, symptoms such as nausea, delirium and tinnitus appear. TBHQ has also been shown to aggravate emotional issues such as anxiety, restlessness and ADHD. In long term animal studies, it's caused cancerous precursors in the stomach and DNA damage. In addition, according to this source, it doesn't even have to be listed as an ingredient, so we may be ingesting way more than we think.

But don't go running into the streets screaming just yet.

Yes, this stuff seems to be terrible bad no good. I don't recommend eating it. However, at the concentration it's legally allowed, you're not going to kill yourself or your kids on one happy meal. The problem is, how many kids in America only eat one fast food meal a month, or even a week? Add to that the number of processed prepackaged snacks consumed and you've got quite a buildup.

What should I do?
As I suggested on Wednesday, find a good brand of 100% whole grain bread that you trust and make a plain ole Peanut butter sandwich or peanut butter apples. These don't take much work, and they're safer. Of course, make sure your peanut butter is made from good ingredients, too.

We should be avoiding fast food, snack cakes, and other prepackaged junk food as much as we possibly can, and this is just yet another good reason to do so.

Our bodies need food in the form it comes from the earth, with its original nutrition still intact. It takes some work in the beginning because you have to rethink your food routines, from shopping to cooking to mindless snacking. Can I tell you, it's well worth it? Meal plan, cook ahead, and keep plenty of fresh fruits and veggies handy. Educate yourself and notice how much better you feel when you eat properly.  One day, you'll look back and wonder why you didn't do this years ago.

I found my information for this post here, here, and here.


  1. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    Share your great fermented food recipes at my Probiotic Food Linky – open through Februray 6, 2012.

  2. Thank you for the info! We should be eating more PB+J sandwiches, :)

  3. I eat all sorts of "ethnic" foods all the time and yet, I think it was one small meal of a burger and three of these chicken things that sent me on a down hill slide of illness that took a week to pull out of. NEVER AGAIN. My theory is that chemical preservatives in the McDonald's was just enough to tip the scales in my internal bacterial balance in the wrong way...

    Even if your kid doesn't eat like I do, just think, when they come in contact with bad bacteria, they need all the good bacteria on their side, not beat down from them eating a "happy meal".

    1. We have a word for that at our house - fast food belly. Many of the fast food restaurants we eat at end up making us pretty sick for at least a couple of hours later on.

      Thanks for sharing, I definitely agree, we need to build up our immune system as much as possible with good bacteria!