Chemical of the Day – TBHQ

TBHQ  Don’t you just love it when the actual name of an ingredient is so long and scary sounding that they have to abbreviate it?   Tertiary Butylhydroquinone or TBHQ as it is commonly referred to, is a chemical preservative, petroleum-based product with antioxidant properties. A synthetic antioxidant and it is in our food, it is also in resins, lacquers, varnishes and oil field additives.

TBHQWhy is this in our food?  TBHQ is used to extend the shelf life of processed food, particularly oily / fatty foods by preventing the oils from becoming rancid.

TBHQ is found in cosmetics, baby skin care products,  crackers, pre-made taco shells, cereals,  fast food and the list goes on and on.



From the FDA  ‘The total antioxidant content of a food containing the additive will not exceed 0.02 percent of the oil or fat content of the food, including the essential (volatile) oil content of the food.’ The FDA allows up to .0.02% of the total oils to be TBHQ.

Doesn’t seem like a lot, does it?  The mere fact that the FDA limits TBHQ to a minuscule amount should be a warning in itself.   The problem I see it that because TBHQ is in so many processed food  products, skin care products, fast food and the packaging of many microwaveable frozen food, actual consumption is far greater than 0.02 percent.  Just like with medicines, it makes sense to consider the age and size of the person consuming these chemicals.

Another concern is that TBHQ is often used in conjunction with BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole ) and  BHT, (butylated hydroxytoluene) creating a chemical cocktail that our bodies aren’t designed to metabolize.

According to Med Health  ‘An upper limit of 0.02% of the fat or oil content in foods is set by FDA. In concentrations higher than this, TBHQ can cause adverse effect on the health.

Various symptoms which can occur due to consuming high doses (1-4 g) of TBHQ include nausea and vomiting, collapse, delirium, and ringing sound in ears. It can also cause asthma, dermatitis, and rhinitis. It can also worsen the symptoms of ADHD and restlessness.

Quite clearly, I don’t know of one parent who would knowingly feed their children poison, in fact most parents go above and beyond to protect their children.  From car seats and bike helmets, to no over the counter cold medicines and then turn around and drive-thru for a ‘special (chemical) treat’.

If I had a child dealing with ADD, ADHA, anxiety, asthma, autism I would be hot on the trail to eliminate chemicals, dyes and preservatives from their diet.  It certainly can’t hurt and it might just help the entire family.


Natural News


Feingold Diet



Chemical of the Day – TBHQ — 13 Comments

      • BIG SMILE! I stopped believing that my genes were responsible for my chronic illness a long time ago. There is no doubt in my mind that many cases (not all, but most, about 75%) of learning disabilities in children are related to diet and nutrition. I like to refer people affected with ADHD to the book HEALING THE HYPERACTIVE BRAIN by Dr. Michael Lyon, M.D. Like me, he has recovered from ADHD, and like me, he too is adversely affected by chemicals in food (no junk food) as well as food intolerances. Thsnks for all the good work you do keeping people informed Baking Nana. I for one appreciate it. God bless.

  1. Food additives are scary! This website really turned me on to what I should look for when shopping: “100 days of real food”

    Since I became a home maker, I now have time to make everything from scratch to ensure we are not eating chemicals anymore, but I know the frustration of having a full-time job and still having to put dinner on the table. Convenience usually wins. Great post, BN and very informative! 🙂

    • Hi Abbey – Thanks for your comments and the link. I had to take the actual link out of the comment (it is complicated but has to do with google search engines) still, that is a great site.
      It is hard to make everything from scratch, but I look at the ingredient list and decide if based on the ingredients, could I made it from scratch. If the answer is yes, I buy it – if the answer is No – I don’t buy it. Example: Would I use azodicarbonamide in my bread? No, absolutely not, therefore I don’t buy that bread.
      Just one example, but it speaks volumes about the junk that is being passed off as food.
      I believe that people will make time for the things that are important to them. Real food needs to come before anything else.

  2. My daughter-in-law is a diligent reader of ingredients, and she does not very frequently enter the middle aisles of a grocery store—with the exception of the health food section. She’s smart! Stay to the outer edges! Thanks for the new lesson! I’ll be sure to pass this on!

    • Marianne, the markets are tricky – “All Natural” isn’t always so natural. It takes diligence to stay ahead of the game, especially when the kids are clamoring for the boxes of neatly packaged food like products. Your daughter in law is a bright woman – those middle aisles are fraught with deceptive packaging.
      Thanks for stopping in.

    • Personally, I think it should be required to print the whole name and not the abbreviated version (would that fit on the label?) – it might make a few ‘label readers’ stop and think. It is easy to say, “TBHQ” or “BHA” How bad can that be?
      Pretty bad, I would say!
      It is time to step away from the boxes and fast food chains!

  3. great read banking nana! i started reading labels about twenty yrs ago when i became sensitive to MSG. it’s incredible the amt of junk that is in our food. i quickly began how to make food from scratch. i agree about those middle isles, they’re infested!

    • Debbie, I think many of us are dealing with trying to track down the source of many food related maladies.
      MSG is a trigger for me – a little is OK, too much and I am down for the count.
      Who knows what this chemical shit storm is doing to our young ones.

  4. Holy Cow, B’Nana! The middle aisles of the grocery store may turn out to be the smoking gun for lots of things! When I was a child, I didn’t know how lucky I was that Dad raised vegetables and Mom canned and froze them. I just hated all the stuff I had to do to help out in the summer.

    • Brenda,
      There are so many disturbing ingredients in our ‘food like’ products, none of which we grew up with. Like you, I didn’t know how lucky we were.
      If I had it to do over, my children would never have seen the inside of a fast food place and although I didn’t buy a lot of processed food, I certainly didn’t pay attention to labels either.
      Those center aisles are chemical bombs, waiting to go off, or maybe they already have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.