Monday, May 22, 2006

More benzene in soda than you thought

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday posted to the internet the actual data behind its finding of benzene in certain sodas and beverages, which contain both ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and benzoate salts (such as sodium benzoate). Benzene is a carcinogen.

Some of the highest benzene counts were for one lot of Crystal Light Sunrise Classic Orange, with more than 76 parts per billion (ppb), and a lot of Safeway Select Diet Orange, with 79 ppb.

Here's FDA's comment on the results:
Because of the limited survey data to date, we cannot yet understand the sources of variation in measured benzene levels, such as variability between different product lots and the effects of storage and handling. For example, although one sample from a production lot may contain elevated benzene levels, it does not mean that all the products from that lot will have elevated levels, or that all lots of a given product will contain elevated levels.
In other words, BE VERY REASSURED. It is possible that the orange soda your child is drinking has less benzene.

Leave it to the Environmental Working Group to point out that the benzene counts for the two worst lots are about 17 times the safe level limit for benzene in drinking water.