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(article, Caroline Cummins)
Back in May, the FDA announced that it had detected benzene, a powerful carcinogen, in beverage samples at far higher levels than the federally allowed 5 parts per billion. By October, a lawsuit had been filed against the Coca-Cola Company by a group of parents. According to Consumer Reports_, the FDA learned in 1990 that benzene could form in soft drinks. The culprits? Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and sodium benzoate (antimicrobials) together can form benzene, a volatile organic compound more commonly found in paints, tobacco smoke, and automobile emissions. So if you really need that bottle of flavored whatever, check the ingredients list first; ascorbic acid listed together with sodium or potassium benzoate could spell benzene.