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As we browse through the isles of our favorite grocery stores, we like to think that the products that graze the shelf marketed towards our children and loved ones are safe and even somewhat healthy to eat. However, the truth is, when we start reading labels we find that things are not always what they seem.

The “food” being sold to us has more additives than acutal food based ingredients and when you start taking a closer look at what you are putting in your mouth you will be really shocked. Everything from rodent hairs to viruses and even flame retardents are put into our “food” and sold to us under the belief that it will have no ill effect on our health. Today we are going to take a deep dive into petroleum and just a few of the many products that most of you have in your homes today.

What are we looking for?

The most common thing you will find is TBHQ, but what is TBHQ?

TBHQ, or tertiary butylhydroquinone, is a synthetic antioxidant used to extend the shelf life of oily and fatty foods. It prevents rancidity by preventing the oxidation of fats and oils in foods. As such, it is often found in processed foods, snacks, and some fast foods.

TBHQ is derived from butane (a hydrocarbon) and is, therefore, a petroleum byproduct. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of TBHQ as long as it does not exceed 0.02 percent of the oil or fat content in foods.

While TBHQ is generally recognized as safe in the amounts used in food products, excessive consumption in animal studies has raised health concerns, and there have been calls for further research into its effects on human health.

Always checking product labels and limiting intake of overly processed foods can help in moderating exposure to additives like TBHQ.

Petroleum is not just for gasoline and plastic toys. Its byproducts permeate many aspects of our daily lives, often in ways we might not expect. Many of our favorite treats and pantry staples owe their textures, long shelf lives, or specific qualities to ingredients derived from petroleum.

Here’s a list of eight products that might surprise you:

1. Fruit Snacks

Beloved by children and adults alike, many fruit snacks owe their chewy consistency to petroleum-based additives. Gummy candies often contain gelatin, but certain brands of fruit snacks also have added mineral oils that give them that distinct texture.

For a better alternative – click here.

2. Teddy Grahams

While these cute bear-shaped biscuits seem harmless, they, like many other baked goods, may contain tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a synthetic antioxidant derived from petroleum. It’s used to extend the shelf life of the product.

For my kids favorite alternative – click here.

3. Snack Cakes

Many packaged snack cakes, from cream-filled cupcakes to twinkies, contain petroleum byproducts, primarily in the form of food colorings, and preservatives like TBHQ to help them retain their freshness for longer.

For my favorite alternative – click here.

4. Ramen Noodles

One of the reasons instant ramen noodles cook so quickly is because they are pre-fried using tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), that same petroleum-derived antioxidant. This not only gives them a longer shelf life but also ensures they cook in just minutes.

For a healthier alternative – click here.

5. Microwave Popcorn

Butter-flavored microwave popcorn often contains diacetyl, a chemical used to give it a rich buttery taste. Moreover, the inside of many microwave popcorn bags is coated with PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a petroleum byproduct.

For a better alternative – click here or here.

6. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

This popular candy contains PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate), a petroleum-based compound that replaces cocoa butter, making production more cost-effective for manufacturers.

I eat too many of these! Click here.

7. Cheez-Its

Those addicting cheesy crackers may contain food dyes and preservatives derived from petroleum. Always be sure to check the label and look for natural alternatives if you’re trying to avoid such additives.

For a better alternative – click here.

8. Cooking Spray

While they offer convenience, many non-stick cooking sprays contain petroleum-derived propellants, like propane and butane.

For a better alternative – click here.

In conclusion, petroleum byproducts have made their way into many facets of our food supply. Always be sure to read labels and do a little research if you’re trying to avoid these ingredients. With growing awareness about clean eating, many brands now offer alternatives that don’t rely on petroleum-based additives. It’s all about making informed choices for you and your family.