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Sodium Benzoate Food Preservative

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Sodium Benzoate Food Preservative

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Also known as "benzoate of soda," sodium benzoate is an FDA-approved, polyunsaturated fat that has been used by food manufacturers for over 80 years to inhibit microbial growth. As a food additive it is used as a preservative, effectively killing most yeasts, bacteria and fungi. Sodium benzoate is effective only in acidic conditions (pH < 3.6) making its use most prevalent in foods such as preserves, salad dressings (vinegar), carbonated drinks (carbonic acid), jams (citric acid), fruit juices (citric acid), and chinese food sauces. It is also found in alcohol-based mouthwash and silver polish. More recently, sodium benzoate has become apparent in many soft drinks, including Sprite, Fanta, Sunkist, Dr Pepper and Coke Zero.

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 growth,...

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