It operates best in an acidic environment, and it works synergically with other food-grade preservatives -- most notably potassium sorbate. Sodium benzoate is freely found in nature, and in fact, even organically grown cranberries or prunes can contain levels of benzoic acid that exceed the legal limit imposed by the FDA on U.S. food manufacturers (0.1% by weight), although the level normally found in berries will be in the range of 0.05 to 0.1%.
When in contact with acidic environment, Sodium Benzoate transforms into Benzoic Acid. The sodium dissociates forming an ion and the excess hydrogen ions attach to the Benzoate forming Benzoic Acid. Both sodium benzoate, as well as benzoic acid, has been found to be completely safe, and like the preservative. In 1954 Dr. W.H. Stein reported in the Journal of the American Chemical Society that benzoate is a natural metabolite of the human body.
Sodium benzoate has been the subject of extensive experimentation: it has been tested in longitudinal and short-term feeding experiements in man, dogs, and rats. In one experiment in Germany, four generations of rats were continuously exposed to 0.05 or 1 percent sodium benzoate in their diet. Scientists did not observe any harmful effects on... [continues]
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