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Sodium Benzoate

Alternate Names

Benzoic Acid, Potassium Benzoate, Benzoate


Benzoic Acid occurs naturally in many plants such as berries, apples and plums. The acid and its salts are used as a food preservative as it helps prevent yeast growth and bacteria formation. Benzoic Acid can be used directly, with sodium (Sodium Benzoate) or potassium (Potassium Benzoate). It is commonly used in soda and acidic foods.

Sodium Benzoate - Quick Stats

Benzoic Acid, Potassium Benzoate, Benzoate

Allergy Information

Vitamin C





Additional Information

When forms of benzoate are combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and heat or light, it creates a form of benzene. While the amount of benzene formed is below levels considered dangerous, benzene is a known carcinogen. In 2007, UK's Food Standards Agency issued a warning to parents regarding the hyperactive behavioral effects of certain food colorings combined with sodium benzoate. Due to the amount of negative press this additive has endured, many beverages companies are looking for ways to phase out Sodium Benzoate from their products.

Found In

salad dressing, soda and carbonated beverages, jam, fruit juice, pickles, margarine, wine, infant and children's vitamins

Possible Health Effects

May exacerbate asthma, hyperactive behavior (when consumed in products with certain food colorings), and cause skin rash upon contact. A study in 2007 indicated that it may cause serious cell damage associated with cirrhosis of the liver, ageing, and Parkinson's disease. In animal studies, there are reports of possible weight gain, liver and kidney issues, and birth defects. Also see Additional Information section.

Allergy Information

May cause allergic reaction in sensitive individuals, See Possible Health Effects section, Contains Sodium (those on sodium restricted diets should limit)

Online Resources/Related

Print Resources

Copyright May 28, 2010 Be Food Smart

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