What is it?
Sodium Benzoate is a preservative, is is closely related to Benzoic Acid.
Why is it used?
Sodium Benzoate is used to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic food like fruit juice, carbonated drinks and pickles.
Why should I know about it?
While Sodium Benzoate appears to be safe for most people, it can cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
Another problem occurs when sodium benzoate is used in beverages also containing ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The two substances, in an acidic solution, can react together to form small amounts of benzene, a chemical that causes leukemia and other cancers. Though the amounts of benzene that form are small, leading to only a very small risk of cancer, there is no need for consumers to experience any risk. In the early 1990s the FDA had urged companies not to use benzoate in products that also contain ascorbic acid, but in the 2000s companies were still using that combination. A lawsuit filed in 2006 by private attorneys ultimately forced Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and other soft-drink makers in the U.S. to reformulate affected beverages, typically fruit-flavored products.