Nine Facts about Sodium Benzoate, a Preservative

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.


  • PIXE

    This statement is not correct.  ”A close relative of sodium benzoate is pottasium benzoate (E212), also known as benzoic acid.”  Benzoic acid is an acid and potassium benzoate is its salt.  Two different compounds.  If you put potassium benzoate in water, it will dissociate into benzoic acid and OH- (base).  The solution will then be a base.  If you mix benzoaic acid with potassium benzoate, you get an acid buffer.

  • Shaifaligupta2010

     when you try to give any information on public post you should act a lot more sensibly, Iam a Q.C manager in company producing Benzoic Acid and Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Benzoate is a sodium salt of Benzoic Acid, and Potassium Benzoate is Potassium Salt of Benzoic Acid, also after dissociation it does not change to benzene, it simply breaks down in benzoic acid also if by chance it converts into benzene its below 2ppm as studied by USFDA.ITS NOT CARCINOGENIC IN ANY FORM ITS LABELLED AS GRAS BY WHO & USFDA.

    • Dani

      I will definitely investigate more on this subject, specially since sodium benzoate and sortic acid make up part of the ingredients of Children’s Homeopathic Medicine.

      I will not take one single source as fact in this matter… but I will definitely NOT take what the USFDA has to say about ANY of the ingredients as fact or truthful.

      The USFDA allows NUMEROUS toxic ingredients in processed foods including the ones that claim to be “natural”

      • Elia

        YES dani i agree with you!!!

    • Ben

      Obviously this ‘Hemi Weingarten’ doesn’t know much of what they are talking about, but THE USFDA IS NOT ALWAYS CORRECT. The USFDA’s say allows companies to put sodium benzoate in food, which is all production companies care about.

    • anastasiia

      I wouldn’t trust any ingridient that belongs to Generally Recognized As Safe….FDA does not conduct any research on such ingredients, but leaves it on the producer of the food product.
      Having smth in GRAS category is the same as to say: ” they say it does no harm, but nobody actually cared to research it”.

  • Guest

    I just discovered Tapatio has Sodium Benzoate in it.. It’s been a sad day..

  • Nanc

    My 7 year old granddaughter is highly sensitive to sodium benzoate. Within 5 minutes of eating anything that contains it she becomes almost psychotic. It is really bad for some people.

    • Efrat

      Me to. I am glad you tracked the connection. Saved his life. It took me 25 years of suffering immensely…to find out it was salts like sodium benzoate messed my brain and digestive system.
      By the way you want to be carfull with sodium/potassium/calcium sorbates as well if he is sensitive. It is causing me much much less neural impact when consumed in small amounts (say 2 slices of industy made bread) but… Since SO many products contain them the small amount from every product makes it consistant to the nervous system and it hypersensitze if you are sensitive to it.
      Small doses once in a while is tolarated. Because it washes off from the system pretty fast.
      So the problem with it is in large quantities as can be ingested because many product contain it. And in the consistency… That is… Consumed daily
      I contrast to benzoates… That a single dose gets me to the hospital with in 4 to 8 hours…

  • David

    I have always tried to stay away from toothpastes that contain Titanium Dioxide (a known E-number carcinogen) but now my new one contains Sodium Benzoate. Does anyone here know of studies surrounding the use of carcinogens in toothpaste. A product that people typically don’t swallow, but still fill their mouths with.

    • Lenka

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  • Sudharson

    Hi All,

    The divine noni has E211 preservative and sold in INDIA,My parents are having those daily will it cause cancer if so why this DIVINE noni is not banned in INDIA.. ..please let me know where i need to take this forward to stop these human killers…

  • Stupidity makes me mad

    It’s bullshit article. I read one line and it’s already a lie: “Sodium benzoate is found naturally in tiny amounts in fruits such as cranberries, prunes, and apples.” IT IS NOT FOUND NATURALLY! Benzoic acid is found, but it is not the same. Sodium benzoate is the chemical benzoate of soda, produced by the neutralization of benzoic acid with sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, or sodium hydroxide. IT IS MADE IN LABORATORY! Read before write anything.

  • Vibol

    We can use with fruits have vitamin C? Such as pineapple juice Orange juice. ..