A swig of embalming fluid, anyone?

I try not to do a ton of ‘health’ type posts on here because:

a)  I’m not a doctor

b)  I’m as wishy washy as the people who tell us not to eat red meat and then to eat it again a year later

c)  I talk better than I live (candy addicts anonymous, anyone?)

d)  I think everyone already knows this stuff

But if you’re willing to indulge me on this one, I’d like to share with you a little bit about a substance that your children may be ingesting every day.  A substance that’s in your food and is also used in jet fuel, rubber, petroleum  and embalming fluid.

Yummy, huh?

It’s called BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene – but who can say that?!)  and it’s in nearly every pre-packaged food that kids love.  We don’t do a lot of prepackaged in our house (don’t pat me on the back, i’m just cheap and will not spend money on rice krispie squares I can make myself!) but the one thing we do indulge in is cereal.

It’s not often that its eaten for breakfast because we can all agree that it’s not healthy or filling but it is eaten as an after school snack nearly every single day.  As far as treats go, I figure it’s better than pop tarts.  (maybe?)

The boys had lots of favourites that are classic to most kids.  Honey Nut Cheerios, Mini Wheats and the like.  I would let them choose the ones that have a veil of health draped over top of their sugary reality.  No marshmallows or chocolatey numbers make the cut except for on birthdays!

But who are we kidding.  None of them are really good for you.  It’s a processed sugary snack and that’s that.  I had just accepted that I was turning a blind eye to this and keeping the peace.

Enter BHT.

Sure the FDA deems that its, “generally recognized as safe,” (generally?) but the National institutes of Health say otherwise.  More along the lines of, “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”  The Department of Health and Human Services agrees and yet the FDA has allowed it to be used anyways.  Weird, right?

So I set out to searching for cereals that do not contain BHT.  Let me tell you, it isn’t easy.  My boys and I spent a good half hour in the cereal aisle reading the labels on all of our favourites.  Mini Wheats?  Has it.  Corn Flakes?  Has it.  Life?  You bet.  Rice Krispies, Shreddies, Raisin Bran?  Mm hmm.  Honey Chex?  Our gluten free cereal of choice?  It’s in there.

We were so surprised by this ingredient that we’d never heard of before finding it’s way into our cereal.  And it wasn’t always there, I assure you.  But now it is.

So why are we concerned?  Well, in animal research BHT has been shown to result in cancer.    Awesome. (not!)

It would seem that the very oxidative characteristic which makes BHT an ingredient in our cereal (BHT is used as a preservative)  may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity.  There is also evidence that certain people may have a hard time metabolizing BHT.  In these cases, it may result in health and behaviour changes.

Put all of this information together and I have enough to know that this isn’t something I want going in to my body or the bodies of my children.  (or my readers!  stop it!  I love you too much to see you harm yourself!)

I never make any of these changes without discussing it with the boys first though.  The last thing I want is for them to be grumbling about not having mini wheats every day and so we work these things out together.  We did some reading, watched some you tube videos and then embarked on the grocery store with a mission – to find the cereal that doesn’t contain BHT.

I’m happy to report that we found some!  Not a lot, but some!  Both Honey Nut and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Corn Bran, and Nature’s Path brand which gives us a few of our very favourites, Gorilla Munch and Panda Puffs.

So there are choices and these are the ones we’ve decided to stick with.  No toxic substances, once aware, are going to be making their way into our bodies, thank you very much!

p.s.  you may also want to check the labels on things like chips, cured meat like pepperoni, quaker oatmeal products (hello granola bars! I’m talking to you!), and chewing gum. And I’m sorry.


3 thoughts on “A swig of embalming fluid, anyone?

  1. urghhhhh I’m so not surprised. But glad you posted! I’ve always been against prepackaged foods, but mostly because of the same reasons as you (I’m cheap, I like to cook, I’ve got the time to cook, I think my versions taste better – sometimes). I would also tack on that “hey, and there’s no preservatives in MY granola bars/cookies/swuares/bars/muffins/granola, etc” but realistically it wasn’t the reason I did it. Just an added bonus.

    Knowing real details like this helps though. My husband eats mini wheats every morning and we give them to our kids dry as a snack often. YIKES. I’ll have to have a sit down with Brad about his favourite cereal soon! So glad to hear honeynut cheerios and apple cinnamon cheerios are safe though, because though I’m not a big cereal lover anymore, they were among my favourites back in the day AND COSTCO SELLS THEM (so horray!).

    Love that you research this stuff so I don’t have to 😉


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