BHT is a preservative used primarily for its antioxidative properties. It is used to prevent spoilage and rancidity in fats and oils and some grains.

Health considerations

BHT has been associated both with increased and decreased cancer risk, as well as both increased and decreased risk of birth defects. However, studies in animals have seen interactions with DNA, changes in lung tissue, increased liver weight, and impaired liver function. BHT has been classified as a suspected gastrointestinal, immuno-, kidney, neuro-, respiratory, and skin toxicant.

Keep in mind

While approved for use by the EU and FDA, there are strict limitations on maximum levels allowed and many industries voluntarily avoid using it.

May be found in

Breakfast cereals, rolled oats, processed meat, ready-to-eat meals, enriched rice, poultry.


Journal of Technical Methods and Pathology
Food and Chemical Toxicology
Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society

Alternative Spellings and Names

Butylated hydroxytoluene, butylhydroxytoluene, E321

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