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What is BHA and BHT used for in Food?

BHT and BHA in food

Additives used in the food industry are very diverse and include a wide range of chemicals, which have special properties if used in food products, including anticoagulants, emulsifiers, moisturizers, and preservatives. An important issue in the production of food products that strongly affects their quality and storage time is the issue of oxidation of food produced, to prevent this process, the use of antioxidants is usually the best method. Synthetic phenolic antioxidants such as butyl hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) are common and are popular additives in the food industry. This popularity can be due to various reasons, including low price, ease of access, and chemical stability. In this blog, we try to learn more about BHT and BHA and the properties and applications of these two chemicals, especially their use in the food industry.

What is BHA Do?

BHA or butyl hydroxy anisole, also known as a phenolic antioxidant in 99% purity, is recognized as an authorized food additive. It has excellent solubility in fats and oils and is known for its effect on cooked food. BHA provides excellent stability to a range of food products, fats, oils, pet foods, vitamins, and packaging materials.


What is BHT?

BHT or hydroxytoluene butyl is an organic compound that can prevent the formation of free radicals and oxidation. It can be dissolved in non-polar fats and non-polar solvents and it’s also widely used in the food industry.

the chemical formula of BHT and BHA


How Do BHA and BHT Preserve Food?

Chemically, to maintain and extend the shelf life of food products, we must use additives that oxygen is more likely to react with than the ingredients in the product. In this way, these additives can exert their antioxidant effect. BHT and BHA are among these additives, and more oxygen tends to react with them.  In addition to preserving food, these two preservatives are also used to preserve fats and oils in cosmetics.

What Foods contain BHA and BHT?

BHA is found in butter, meat, grains, chewing gum, baked goods, snacks, dehydrated potatoes, and beer. It is also found in animal feed, food packaging, cosmetics, rubber products, and petroleum products.

BHT is mostly used for fatty and oily foods as well as cereals and has a better and more effective oxidation effect on foods. Antioxidants are usually used in very small amounts as additives, this limit can be in the range of 200 ppm or 0.02 percent, which use in these amounts has no harmful effects.


Why use BHA and BHT for Pet Food?

BHT and BHA are antioxidants that are also found in abundance in pet foods. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the use of this substance for pets and dogs.

BHT and BHA in Pet food

Recently, adverse effects of these antioxidants have been reported to cause cancer and damage in some laboratory animals. Although synthetic antioxidants are consumed in small amounts, the need for a variety of side effects without antioxidants is also felt, and the search for alternatives to synthetic antioxidants has led to the discovery of numerous antioxidants from plant sources.

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