E320 is an additive approved by the EU (European Union). It is used as a synthetic antioxidant in food and drink products, especially in fatty food products. E320 also has uses as a preservative.
The common name for E320 is butylated hydroxyanisole or BHA.
If consumed at the same time as large amounts of Vitamin C (E300), E320 is thought to cause damage to DNA by the production of free radicals, which are very reactive compounds that carry an unpaired electron.
E320 remains stable at very high temperatures and is therefore used in bakery products.
It is possible that at some stage E320 may be removed from the list of EU approved food additives because there have been suspicions about the possibility of E320 being carcinogenic. E320 has also been said to irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system. It was banned in Japan in 1958 after large amounts caused tumours in lab experiments on animals.
Examples of food and drink products that may include E320:
- pastry products
- chewing gum