Benzoate is is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and a widely used food preservatives with an E number of E211. Benzoic acid is found naturally in some fruits and spices and is then combined with sodium hydroxide. It is bacteriostatic and fungistatic under acidic conditions and is most widely used in acidic foods.
Foods that may contain benzoates
arbonated drinks (carbonic acid)
Jams and fruit juices (citric acid)
Salad dressings (vinegar)
Benzoate can trigger asthma and other allergic reactions and attention the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) in children. When benzoates are added to foods, and to the interior of metal cans that contain beverages or liquid foods, they can have a detrimental effect on health. When sodium benzoate is combined with citric acid and/or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) they form benzene, a carcinogen which is a cancer-causing chemical associated with leukaemia and other blood cancers. The rate at which benzene is formed is affected by light and heat, as well as the time spent on a shelf from production to consumption.
A close relative of sodium benzoate is potassium benzoate (E212) also known as benzoic acid.
Check label ingredients for:
Avoid purchasing especially if ascorbic acid, citric acid or vitamin C is also listed on the label.