E321 Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)




Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)



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Butylated Hydroxy Toluene is a lipophilic organic compound that is used as an antioxidant. BHT is prepared by the reaction of p-cresol (4-methylphenol) with isobutylene (2-methylpropene) catalysed by sulfuric acid.

It was patented in 1947 and approved by FDA in 1954 for use in vegetable oils, shortening, lard, fat, margarine, carbonated drinks, cheese spreads, chewing gum, ice cream, dry breakfast cereal.

It is mostly added in combination with E320 BHA, they prevent fats from becoming rancid.

Due to the side effects, the EU has restricted its use. There is evidence that BHT causes cell division.

Not permitted in infant foods, can provoke an allergic reaction in some people, may trigger hyperactivity, asthma and other intolerance's; serious concerns over carcinogenic and estrogenic effects, in large doses caused tumours in lab animals, banned in Japan in 1958, official committees of experts recommended that it be banned in the UK, however due to industry pressure it was not banned, McDonald's eliminated BHT from their US products by 1986.