Toxic soda – another reason to drink beer

So the FDA figured out in the 1990s that two common preservatives used in soda pop, when combined, can produce enough benzene in the soda to exceed legal levels for this stuff in drinking water. They just neglected to tell us, reports:

Chemists from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they were surprised that recent tests showed benzene levels in some soft drinks above the country’s legal limit for drinking water.

They were not surprised, however, to hear the suspected source of the problem was two common ingredients regularly used in soft drink formulas – sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

That is because both the FDA and US soft drinks association have known about this for 15 years, as testified by an internal FDA memo, dated January 1991.

One FDA chemist, who was also at the meetings with industry back then, told the industry had agreed to “get the word out and reformulate”. No public announcement was, therefore, ever made.
The benzene trail, Chris Mercer,, 3/6/2006 (via Effect Measure)

Despite the knowledge of this reaction, apparently neither the FDA nor any food regulatory agencies in Europe have any limits on benzene levels in soda. This means they have no leverage to enforce any limits, and so the pop makers can hawk their wares which may contain benzene at levels above the limits for water. But how difficult could it be to say that soda pop has to conform to the same standards as drinking water, when it comes to known carcinogens?

What can we do? Well, read the labels! I checked the sodas in our fridge and found the following:

The Beck’s I am sipping while typing this, supposedly was made only from water, barley, and hops.


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