The Rise of BHT Alternatives in Common Foods

June 7, 2024

In recent years, the use of Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), a synthetic antioxidant found in various processed foods, has sparked concerns not only among consumers but also within the food industry itself. In this blog, we will delve into the industry's perspective on BHT, the regulatory landscape in the United States, and explore alternative approaches that food scientists and manufacturers can consider.

Understanding BHT

Butylated Hydroxytoluene, or BHT, is a synthetic antioxidant that has been utilized in the food industry for decades to extend the shelf life of products and preserve their flavor. Despite being approved by the FDA for use in cosmetics and foods since 1964, BHT's safety profile continues to be a subject of scrutiny. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies BHT as a Group 3 agent, indicating that it is "not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans" due to limited evidence.

Industry Concerns

The concerns surrounding BHT extend beyond consumer worries. Within the food industry, questions arise about the safety and sustainability of using this synthetic antioxidant. The potential health risks associated with BHT have led many food manufacturers to reconsider its use in their products.

Alternative Approaches for Food Scientists

1. Natural Antioxidants: Food scientists can explore natural antioxidants as alternatives to BHT. Ingredients like vitamin E, rosemary extract, and green tea extract have shown promise in preserving food quality and extending shelf life.

2. Improved Packaging: Innovative packaging solutions, such as vacuum sealing and modified atmosphere packaging, can help mitigate the need for synthetic antioxidants like BHT by creating an oxygen-free environment that prevents food spoilage.

3. HPP (High-Pressure Processing): Utilizing HPP technology can extend the shelf life of certain food products without the need for synthetic preservatives. This non-thermal pasteurization method effectively kills pathogens and extends product freshness.

4. Clean Labeling: As consumer demand for clean-label products grows, food scientists can focus on developing formulations that eliminate or minimize synthetic additives, including BHT. Embracing transparency in ingredient lists can be a selling point for many consumers.


The concerns surrounding the use of BHT in the food industry underscore the need for innovative solutions and alternatives. Food scientists and manufacturers have an opportunity to address these concerns by exploring natural antioxidants, improving packaging methods, and embracing clean labeling practices.

By doing so, the industry can not only meet consumer demands for safer and healthier food products but also contribute to a more sustainable and responsible approach to food preservation. As we move forward, the collaboration between food scientists, manufacturers, and regulators will play a vital role in shaping the future of food safety and quality.

For further insights and resources on navigating the changing landscape of food additives and preservation methods, consider staying connected with Journey Foods. Our platform is dedicated to advancing the conversation on food technology and innovation, offering industry professionals valuable information to drive positive change.

In the ever-evolving world of food science, the pursuit of safer, more sustainable alternatives to BHT is a step towards a healthier and more responsible food future.

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