What's TBHQ? An easier-to-say nickname for tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-derived chemical (a form of butane) used to prevent fats and oils from oxidizing, which increases the shelf life of fast foods such as Chicken McNuggets and french fries (it's also utilized in non-food products such as butane lighters, pesticides, lacquer and varnish).


While the consensus seems to be that its usefulness as a preservative outweighs any potential health risks, the chemical may cause nausea, vomiting, deliriousness, and tinnitus, with children more susceptible to these symptoms than adults.