Beware of the Butane

Courtesy of my colleague, I came across this article on Yahoo about the perils of eating chicken nuggets.

Broadly speaking, the article speaks good sense. Chicken nuggets are quite vile concoctions (and showing your kids a video of how they are made is pretty good at stopping them wanting to eat them, or at least it worked for us). However, there is one line in there that stopped the chemists here dead in their tracks:

Another additive is tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a form of butane.

Really? A form of butane?

Even the briefest visit to Wikipedia tell us that tert-butylhydroquinone is not very closely related to butane at all. It is a flavorless preservative, used in a wide range of foods at carefully controlled levels (well below any level that might be considered dangerous). It is not a volatile hydrocarbon and I doubt it is very flammable. Plus that rather overlooks most of the molecule.

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6 comments on “Beware of the Butane

  1. milkshake says:

    I remember a Greenpeace investigative report about an industry disaster in Mexico City few years back. There was a mishap at a plant extracting vegetable oils, apparently they opened a wrong ventil and quite a lot of solvents run off into the city sewage drain system where it later ignited and caused impressive fireballs shooting out of manholes all over the city. The enviro experts sensed a media opportunity and conducted their own investigation and with a great aplomb uncovered a massive cover-up perpetrated by the industry and the city officials. While the officials falsely claimed that the solvent causing fires was “a hydrocarbon solvent similar to gasoline”, the independent investigation uncovered that in reality it was a far more scary stuff – a highly explosive substance known as “hexane”

  2. backpack says:

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  5. fishing says:

    it is a great post and thanks anyway

  6. Larry Becker says:

    Interesting, thanks for clarifying. My GF is a biochemist, I’ll have to send her your article.

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