The preservative TBHQ, used in PopTarts, is harmful to the human immune system.
On March 25, 2021, Environmental Working Group announced the publication of a study that it had conducted into chemical preservatives in processed foods. The group claimed that it had identified tertbutylhydroquinone, TBHQ, as harmful to the immune system in animal and non animal tests, meaning that it is potentially harmful to the human immune system .
TBHQ is used in PopTarts, Cheez-Its and other common processed foods.
A range of publications and social media users have since warned people about the dangers of TBHQ based on the study.
Misbar's investigation found that the study authored by the Environmental Working Group appeared in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which is a legitimate peer-reviewed publication. This lends credibility to the study’s claim that its researchers matched, “557 direct additives to ingredient labels of products sold in the United States in 2018-2020,” and that it had identified reports that TBHQ has been observed to, “affect different immune system parameters and functions.”
However, as other sources have noted, the Environmental Working Group often uses flawed methodologies and that it is funded by companies such as Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms, which benefit from the promotion of organic foods.
Essentially, the research in the Environmental Working Group’s study appears to be legitimate. However, the questionable nature of its previous research means that other, more reliable, organizations should conduct further studies into the effect of TBHQ on the human immune system.