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Sodium benzoate

Soda Manufacturers Attempt to Downplay Sodium Benzoate Link to Hyperactivity

Friday, January 04, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: sodium benzoate, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) In response to a recent study that linked common soft drink additive sodium benzoate to increased hyperactivity in children, the British Soft Drink Association downplayed the significance of the new findings.

"It should be noted that this study used a mixture of ingredients in each trial and due to the nature of the research, the effect of individual colors on the behavior of children surveyed could not be determined," the association said.

In a study commissioned by the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency (FSA) and conducted by researchers from the University of Southampton, children were fed a fruit drink spiked with a mixture of common food colorings and preservatives. Both of the mixtures were found to increase hyperactivity, and both contained sodium benzoate.

Because the effects of the two mixtures were different, the exact contribution of sodium benzoate to the hyperactivity could not be determined. Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of The Five Soft Drink Monsters (a guide for quitting the soft drink habit), responded by saying, "This is like saying that since the health hazard cannot be assigned to any one particular chemical, all the chemicals must therefore be safe. The soft drink industry claiming that these chemical additives do not harm health is like Big Tobacco claiming cigarette smoke doesn't cause lung cancer," Adams said.

While the beverage industry said that consumers need have no cause for alarm, the FSA issued as statement advising parents that there might be "some beneficial effects on [the] the behavior" of hyperactive children to cutting artificial colorings and preservatives from their diets.

The new study is only the most recent controversy over sodium benzoate, has been shown to break down into the carcinogen benzene in the presence of common soda ingredients citric and ascorbic acid. In response to concern over the presence of benzene in sodas, many beverage manufacturers have begun reformulating their products to reduce benzene formation.

Sodium benzoate is a common preservative in soft drinks because it suppresses the growth of bacteria and fungi under the acidic conditions found in carbonated beverages.

The University of Southampton study has been forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority, which is conducting a review of all the additives currently used in the European Union.

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