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Understanding the Dangers of Sodium Benzoate as a Food Preservative

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Foodfacts.com wants to make you more aware of what controversial ingredients manufacturers are putting into our foods. Sodium benzoate is a commonly used preservative in such items as soft drinks, fruit juices, and jams. Here’s why you need to be concerned about it.

As more people become aware of the chemicals they put into their bodies when they eat processed foods, food preservatives have come under increasing scrutiny. These chemical additives serve the important purpose of stopping the growth of bacteria and fungi which could cause illness if left unchecked. Unfortunately, the dangers of food preservatives are becoming increasingly recognized. One unhealthy preservative that’s received recent attention is sodium benzoate.

Sodium benzoate is a commonly found preservative in such food and drink products as fruit juice, soft drinks, coffee flavoring syrups, as well as a variety of condiments. Although the FDA has previously classified sodium benzoate as a safe preservative, this classification is now being questioned. It appears that sodium benzoate forms a chemical known as benzene when in the presence of vitamin C. Benzene not only causes damage to DNA, the genetic material, it’s also a known carcinogen and appears to play a role in a variety of diseases due to it’s DNA damaging capabilities.

Another reason sodium benzoate may be considered an unhealthy preservative is its effect on children. Some studies have shown that sodium benzoate along with artificial food colorings can cause children with ADHD to be more hyperactive. This can be a particular problem for kids who consume soft drinks on a regular basis since most carbonated beverages have sodium benzoate as a preservative. Because of increasing awareness of this problem, Coke is planning on removing this unhealthy preservative from its soft drink products this year.

Because the conversion of sodium benzoate to benzene occurs in the presence of vitamin C, this unhealthy preservative may be particularly unsafe when used in fruit jellies, jams, and fruit juices where high vitamin C fruits are present. It’s also thought that heat plays a role in the conversion to benzene, so heating products containing this preservative could increase the risk of negative health effects.

Unfortunately, many of the preservatives used in common food products have raised health concerns although sodium benzoate appears to be under the most scrutiny right now. To reduce your risk of exposure, read nutrition labels closely and avoid products that contain sodium benzoate, which can also be listed on the label as E211. Be particularly careful to avoid buying products high in vitamin C that have this unhealthy preservative and never put any product containing sodium benzoate under heat. To avoid the dangers of food preservatives entirely, avoid processed and packaged foods and make your own fresh items at home.

Article provided by: www.ehow.com

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