WASHINGTON (NEWS10) — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the potential harm of consuming the preservative tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. TBHQ is a preservative used to extend shelf lives of popular foods. The preservative can be found in times such as Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats and Cheez-Its, along with nearly 1250 other products.
A new study from the Environmental Working Group suggests that TBHQ could harm the body’s immune system. In a letter to Susan Mayne, director for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Gillibrand urged the FDA to consider “new science” when determining the safety and potential health effects of food additives. And, specifically, the senator wants a complete and thorough review of the safety of TBHQ and other food chemicals that may harm the immune system.
“Many of these food chemicals, including TBHQ, were reviewed by the FDA decades ago and have not been adequately reassessed to reflect new science. In fact, according to the Environmental Research and Public Health study, previous studies of TBHQ cited the potential for effects on the immune system but did not receive any further investigation or review,” wrote Senator Gillibrand.
The Senator adds that many other food chemicals linked to health complications, including those causing harm to the immune system, have been deemed “safe” by food and chemical companies, but not by the FDA. Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs with the Environmental Working Group, says that “too often” it’s the food and chemical companies that deem chemicals safe to eat.
Full text of the letter can be found online.