Preservative in Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its, hundreds of popular foods may harm immune system

WASHINGTON — Most shoppers probably appreciate preservatives for their ability to keep food around longer before it spoils. Unfortunately, a new report finds hundreds of popular, processed foods may contain one ingredient which harms the human immune system.

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group say nearly 1,250 products contain the shelf life-extending chemical tert-butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. They find this preservative, used in Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its, and countless other products, disrupts immune health in both animal and non-animal tests. It may even weaken the effectiveness of vaccines against viruses like COVID-19.

“The pandemic has focused public and scientific

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