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Would you like benzene in your soft drink?
February 15, 2006 7:22 AM   Subscribe

FDA re-opens probe into benzene contamination of soft drinks US food safety authorities have re-opened an investigation closed 15 years ago into soft drinks contaminated with cancer-causing chemical benzene, following evidence the industry has failed to sort out the problem.
posted by mlis (25 comments total)

 
Two reactions:

1) Has anyone compiled a list of beverages containing both sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid, so I don't have to read every single damn label at the grocery store?

2) Thank the gods my beer and vodka are still safe.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:31 AM on February 15, 2006


Coca-cola seems to use potassium benzoate and citric acid.
posted by crunchland at 7:40 AM on February 15, 2006


But benzene is sooooooo tasty.
posted by zeoslap at 7:52 AM on February 15, 2006


I think you are going to find that most sodas have this combination. I wouldn't be surprised to see huge splashes of this story all over the media in the next few days (they just love a good scare) and soft drink stocks plummeting, not that I am going to try shorting any of them.
posted by caddis at 8:00 AM on February 15, 2006


Checking out two cans of (off-brand) pop on my desk.. one (the cola) contains citric acid but no potassium benzoate, the other (Dr Pepper knockoff) contains the latter but not the former. Perhaps this concern is limited to certain manufacturers?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:03 AM on February 15, 2006


I often see ascorbate in products like juice, whereas soda seems to usually contain citric and phosphoric acids. I know that phosphoric acid is supposed to be a good way of lowering beverage pH without changing flavor, whereas the other common acids could alter taste.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:10 AM on February 15, 2006


/me dreams of delicious benzene rings.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:19 AM on February 15, 2006


The National Soft Drinks Association must by behind in their "dues" assessment to the Republican National Commitee.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:30 AM on February 15, 2006


The National Soft Drinks Association must be behind in their "dues" assessment to the Republican National Commitee.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:33 AM on February 15, 2006


Ick. I think of all those programmers I used to work with, and the coke can fortresses they'd build around their desks, and how "hilarious" it was that they drank so much of that crap. And not just the regular B-grade poison, but "diet" Coke, with the yummmy nutrasweet that broke down into formic acid (ant venom) in the bloodstream. Mmmmm.

But smoking pot? Straight to Hell with you!
posted by slatternus at 8:38 AM on February 15, 2006


yummmy nutrasweet that broke down into

at best, a weak hypothesis, and at worst, a really obnoxious urban legend.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:41 AM on February 15, 2006


"The frogurt is also cursed." (wav)
posted by justkevin at 9:12 AM on February 15, 2006


Just doing a quick survey in my office breakroom, both Coke and Mountain Dew both contain sodium benzoate and citric acid. Dew also contains something called erythorbic acid as well.
posted by 40 Watt at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2006


...er, potassium benzoate.
posted by 40 Watt at 10:11 AM on February 15, 2006


no, wait--- i was right the first time. Dammit...
posted by 40 Watt at 10:13 AM on February 15, 2006


Just for the record, because benzene is toxic doesn't mean sodium or potassium benzoate is. Those are the sodium and potassium salts of benzoic acid, which is chemically distinct from benzene. Benzoic acid is found in some natural foods, so you don't have to eat or drink synthetic things to get exposed to it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


For a list, you might try a google search for
"sodium benzoate" "ascorbic acid"
in the site bevnet.com. It looks like a lot of energy drinks are affected.
posted by unknowncommand at 11:11 AM on February 15, 2006


Another source for Benzene which would make the issue more local than national is the carbon dioxide they use to carbonate it.
posted by Eekacat at 11:48 AM on February 15, 2006


Early FDA memos and lots of other benzene/soda stuff
posted by caddis at 1:52 PM on February 15, 2006


From the article -

"But in recent months, internal documents and private tests have begun to surface, supported by claims from a former chemist for Cadbury Schweppes, who is now keen to blow the whistle on the health risk involved. He and a US lawyer commissioned new tests that have now prompted the FDA to re-open the case."

Having a family member recently pass due to Luekemia brought on by Benzene exposure, I would like to see this start to get more attention. I'm no longer consuming any of the products listed by Cadburyschweppes, nor any containing the sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid combo.

This is a really disturbing.
posted by tzelig at 2:18 PM on February 15, 2006


From the article -

"But in recent months, internal documents and private tests have begun to surface, supported by claims from a former chemist for Cadbury Schweppes, who is now keen to blow the whistle on the health risk involved. He and a US lawyer commissioned new tests that have now prompted the FDA to re-open the case."

Having a family member recently pass due to Luekemia brought on by Benzene exposure, I would like to see this start to get more attention. I'm no longer consuming any of the products listed by Cadburyschweppes, nor any containing the sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid combo.

This is really disturbing.
posted by tzelig at 2:19 PM on February 15, 2006


sorry for the double, two windows open.
posted by tzelig at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2006


I've got a can of Schwepps ginger ale on my desk, and it does indeed contain sodium benzoate and citric acid. I wonder if my ginger ale addiction is a contributor to why my recent blood tests showed up as leukocytosis. (Elevated white counts...not the same as leukemia.)

Tzelig, I'm sorry for your loss, please accept my sympathies.
posted by dejah420 at 6:09 PM on February 15, 2006


What is the difference between sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate in this context? Some Coke products use one (mainly Fanta and Sprite) and other the other. See: http://7xpub.com/coke/7xobj.html
posted by Capt. Bligh at 9:17 PM on February 15, 2006


Soft drinks found to have high levels of cancer chemical
London Times
March 2, 2006

posted by mlis at 8:56 PM on March 1, 2006


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