Vitamin E can be a viable alternative to butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) as an additive in flexible packaging materials to extend shelf life concludes a recent study conducted by Michigan State University. Ju-Fen Lin a recent MSU graduate performed research to compare the antioxidant properties of vitamin E to the properties of BHT in a multilayer laminate structure. The research served as her master's program thesis. The study emanated from the interest of both the food and the plastics industry to find a substitute for BHT as an antioxidant in food packaging. Antioxidants extend product shelf life by inhibiting oxidation of fat in dry food products such as snacks crackers and cereals. Plus by adding antioxidants like BHT to the packaging film food processors don't have to add a preservative directly to the product. This creates a shorter ingredient listing always a plus with consumers. Antioxidants also confer benefits to film manufacturers and blow molders. The additives help prevent packaging material degradation improve heat resistance and control color change during film extrusion or blow molding. For all of these reasons resin companies have offered materials incorporating antioxidants into polyolefins for years. However the thesis reports there have been questions raised regarding BHT's safety. While BHT still remains a substance approved by FDA food packagers and film manufacturers have expressed interest in alternative antioxidants. Vitamin E also known as alpha-tocopherol (ATP) has been used for a decade as an antioxidant processing aid by the plastics industry. However ATP's role in extending the shelf life of packaged products has been relatively uncharted territory. Ju-Fen Lin's research documents the degree to which ATP retards oxidation of a dry food product in multilayer packaging films specifically compared to BHT. According to Dr. Jack Giacin advisor to Lin and professor at MSU's School of Packaging the study was funded solely by the university. Several suppliers donated packaging materials. General Mills Minneapolis MN donated an oat-based cereal and Dr. John Culter a General Mills scientist who retired this January also provided guidance and reviewed the project's conclusions.