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What is BHT?

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Quick Answer

BHT, or butylated hydroxytoluene, is a chemical that some companies use as a preservative in food, according to WebMD. It is safe to use in limited amounts in processed foods.

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Full Answer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves of BHT as a food additive, reports Wikipedia. The European Union also allows the use of BHT as a preservative. There are claims that BHT may cause negative health consequences, but studies show conflicting results, as of 2015. A National Cancer Institute study shows that BHT does not cause cancer in mice. General Mills and Kellogg's are phasing out the chemical from their products, as of 2015.

Butylated hydroxytoluene can also treat some medical diseases, notes WebMD. One disorder that BHT is a possible treatment for is genital herpes. Some people use it as a treatment for cold sores by applying it directly on the affected area. BHT is an antioxidant that may keep the virus from multiplying or causing more damage to the affected person. There is insufficient evidence to confirm the efficacy of BHT as a treatment for these disorders. Although BHT is safe to eat, it is unknown whether it is safe in larger amounts. For this reason, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using BHT as medication.

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