Michigan State study links additive in foods to allergies

Published: Jul. 12, 2016 at 6:33 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Cooking for any kid can be difficult, "it's challenging but you know I make his lunch every day" said Theresa Anderson.

But it's even more challenging when that child doesn't have too many options to pick from.

"He's allergic to eggs, dairy, and peanuts," said Anderson.

Every day Anderson makes her 11-year-old son's lunch and each meal she prepares she has to be careful.

"Whenever I do any of his stuff, I do it with gloves on," Anderson said while preparing her son's lunch.

She has to be so careful that even before she buys anything. She's checking the ingredients.

"They don't tell you that they're gonna add something" Anderson said. "So you have to check."

But there's one thing missing from the label that MSU researcher Cheryl Rockwell believes could be the reason her son and many others have food allergies.

That missing link is tert-butylhydroquinone also known as tBHQ.

"tBHQ is a food additive," assistant professor Cheryl Rockwell said. "It's used to prevent rancidification or spoilage of food and it's used in a wide variety of foods."

The synthetic liquid is in such a small form it doesn't need to be labeled, "there's a limit for a percentage composition of a food for what needs to be on the label and tBHQ is often not included" Rockwell said.

In the lab they use that same percentage to test in mice and they've seen a reaction in mice injected with it.

"The control animals were a little itchy, scratchy, rubby," Rockwell said.

Just like an allergic reaction.

While the research isn't a cure or evidence of a direct link to food allergies, for Theresa it's hope.

"Just if they can find something to help other kids, in the future. I mean it's just. Not being scared to send their kid to school," Anderson said.

She thinks this research is heading into the right direction.