BHT and your health

Learn about BHT and its safety.

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About BHT

Butylated hydroxytoluene, or BHT, is a substance used in many industrial, commercial and consumer applications. It can be used as a preservative in foods and food packaging materials. It can also be found in a variety of products available to consumers, including:

People in Canada are exposed to BHT through:

BHT is part of a group of substances called substituted phenols.

Safety of BHT

Under Canada's Chemicals Management Plan, we review and manage the potential risks that chemical substances can pose to people in Canada and the environment. The first stage of the review process is a draft chemical risk assessment.

We have completed the draft assessment of the substituted phenols group of substances, including BHT. We're proposing that BHT is not harmful to human health at current levels of exposure.

However, we're proposing that BHT is harmful to the environment.

What we're doing

Our assessment is not yet final. Before we publish our conclusion, we're continuing to evaluate the potential risk posed by the substituted phenols group of substances, including BHT. This includes:

The use of BHT as a food additive is regulated through the List of Permitted Preservatives. This informs manufacturers, importers and sellers of the maximum level of use (or concentration) of BHT that's permitted in foods, whether added directly or from food packaging.

What you can do

If you're concerned about BHT and its impact on the environment, you can take steps to reduce exposure to the substance.

Read food and product labels. Follow all safety warnings and directions:

Provide any comments on our draft assessment during the 60-day public comment period.

If you're unsure if your product contains BHT, contact the manufacturer.

If you're exposed to BHT at work, talk to your employer and occupational health and safety (OHS) official about:

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For industry and professionals

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