Food Activist Fights General Mills and Wins against BHT


Food Activist Fights General Mills

Have you noticed a change in the consumer pendulum lately.  I believe we are finally making a little head way in the battle against false labeling practices and standing up to the big companies. What consumers are asking is to please stop poisoning our food.  In the latest round of victories, Food Activist, Vani Hari (aka the Food Babe) launched a campaign against the use of BHT in General Mills and Kelloggs cereals.

The preservative called Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) is found in many of the popular cereal brands. The chemical gives cereals like Rice Krispies a much longer shelf life but has been banned in many parts of the world for all it’s toxic effects.

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a chemical cousin to BHA that is also listed as “generally recognized as safe” by our not so concerned for our health FDA. It is added to food as a preservative. BHT is not a listed carcinogen, but some data have shown that it does cause cancer in animals. Rats fed BHT have developed lung and liver tumors (EFSA 2012). BHT has also been shown to cause developmental effects and thyroid changes in animals, suggesting that it may be able to disrupt endocrine signaling (EFSA 2012). A neurobehavioral study of  rats exposed to BHT throughout development described effects on motor skills and coordination before the animals were weaned (Vorhees 1981b).

When Hari initially contacted General Mills, they told her not to worry about it and that BHT was FDA-approved. She then launched a petition to have BHT removed from all General Mills and Kellogg’s products. Only a few hours later, when the petition reached 17,000 signatures, General Mills started sending out this exact message to anyone who tweeted at them about BHT:

When Food Babe was asked, “What put you on the trail of BHT?” her response was:

BHT has been on my radar for quite a while since I wrote about it in 2013, comparing products in the US to products in Europe. They have tighter regulations in Europe because they operate on a precautionary principle. There, products are guilty until proven innocent. Here’s, it’s the reverse.

So what really upset me is this double-standard: They’ll make the same product for a different country and make it safer for people across the globe, but not us. Everything from Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams to seemingly health-conscious cereals like Cheerios Protein and Wheeties and Wheat Chex.

Update: General Mills told the Observer that Ms. Hari didn’t factor into their decision-making at all, and that this has been something in the works for a long time. Their statement in full:

BHT is an FDA-approved food ingredient, but we’re already well down the path of removing it from our cereals. This change is not for safety reasons, but because we think consumers will embrace it. We’ve never spoken with Vani Hari and she did not play any role in our decision. Many of our US Cereals do not contain BHT including: Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Trix, Kix and Lucky Charms. Our removal of BHT from cereals is well underway and has been for more than a year.

Ms. Hari says this is a “hilarious” response, and not the one she received in an email just a few weeks back.

“Before, it was, ‘These ingredients were safe,’” Ms. Hari said. “Now it’s, ‘They’re safe, but we’re going to take them out.’ This is the typical PR line to save face. They think I’ll back off, but they still haven’t given a timeline.”

I think this type of investigative reporting and raising awareness is putting the pressure on companies to give the public what they want and deserve. One small thing to ask for food manufacturers not to poison us with their products. Doesn’t seem like that is too much to ask and maybe even have the FDA to back us up on that request. That may be a bit too far fetched but for now lets celebrate the fact that awareness and taking action against these blatant disregard for our well-being is on the rise.

Healthier Gluten-Free Recipes

Cereals that do not contain BHT:

  • Weetabix –  I enjoy the taste of weetabix, it only has a couple ingredients, and is high in fiber.  You can have it cold, or warm!
  • Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats – This cereal has 5 grams of fiber per serving and also 6 grams of protein!
  • Udi’s Gluten-Free Granola – I have seen this product in most supermarkets, so ask for it if your store doesn’t carry it.
  • Nature’s Path Organics – Nature’s Path offers a selection of organic cereals and they have many gluten-free options.  I have tried several of their cereals and have always enjoyed them.

Related Blog: Reality Show on Personal Products: Get that Toxic Glow


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Sandy J Duncan
Sandy Duncan is completing her Doctorate in Integrative Medicine, a health and wellness coach, Certified Neurofeedback specialist and author of Read honest reviews on current health and wellness products as well as register for FREE giveaways.