1. Sodium Benzoate (E211) is a preservative used to prevent food from molding.
2. It is especially used to preserve acidic foods and beverages such as pickles, salad dressings, fruit juices, and soft drinks.
3. An unfortunate side effect is that when mixed with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) sodium benzoate transforms into benzene, a known carcinogen and DNA damager.
4. The rate at which benzene is formed is affected by light and heat, as well as the time spent on a shelf from production to consumption.
5. The FDA has limited usage of sodium benzoate to 0.1% of a product by weight. The limit for safe drinking water as set by the US government is less than 5 parts per billion (far less tolerance).
6. Some studies have shown that sodium benzoate along with artificial food colorings can cause children with ADHD to be more hyperactive.
7. Coca Cola announced in 2008 that it would remove sodium benzoate from its products by the end of the the year.
8. A close relative of sodium benzoate is pottasium benzoate (E212), also known as benzoic acid.
9. Sodium benzoate is found naturally in tiny amounts in fruits such as cranberries, prunes, and apples.
What to do at the supermarket:
Look closely at ingredient lists and try to avoid products that include sodium benzoate.