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WHAT IS SODIUM BENZOATE AND POTASSIUM BENZOATE AND ARE THEY HARMFUL?

Sodium benzoate, the sodium salt of benzoic acid, is commonly used as a preservative and anti-corrosive agent in several factories and industries. Because of its antifungal and preservative nature, it is also used as a conventional cleaning tool in toilet bowls, upholstery, dishwashers, carpet cleaning and the like.

Sodium benzoate is used as an antifreeze in vehicles, colorant for liquid sodas, fruit juices, salad dressing, and several other carbonated beverages. It is also used in preparing silver polish, fireworks, animal food and mouth wash and strongly prevents wine fermentation.    

Potassium benzoate, on the other hand, is the potassium salt of benzoic acid and is widely used by many industries as a chemical preservative. It looks like a white crystalline powder, and it aids in reducing the sodium content of food and kills bacteria that can cause food spoilage. Also, it contributes largely to the flavor of food as any food additive would.

WHY ARE THEY BAD?

Why would substances with these great benefits, be of harm?

  • Although studies have shown that sodium benzoate is commonly used to treat respiratory depression alongside other measures, it is also believed to produce negative effects on users with allergies to benzene such as headache, overexcitement, agitation, restlessness, hyperventilation, constant irritability and anxiety, unusual tingling in the hands and feet, enhanced sensitivity to touch or pain, insomnia, cardiac arrhythmias, frequent urination, muscle twitches, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, blurred vision, loss of appetite, fatigue, increased sweating, restlessness, nutrition disorders, brain edema tinnitus and shortness of breath for asthmatic patients. That’s a lot!
  • It has also been seen to be a cause of hyperactivity amongst kids and create damage to essential parts of a person’s DNA. This is very harmful as a dysfunctional DNA can cause cell mutation and growth of cancer cells. 
  • When products containing either potassium or sodium benzoate are exposed to light or heat in the presence of ascorbic acid, it is likely to produce benzene, which is very harmful as benzene is a carcinogenic agent (an agent that causes cancer)

HOW DO THEY END UP IN PRODUCTS

It’s very important to note that sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate do not occur naturally. They are chemically formulated and synthesized from benzoic acid, which is found naturally seen in spices and some fruits.

PRODUCTS THAT THEY ARE SEEN IN

  • Sodium benzoate: It is usually found in shampoo, lotions, deodorants, mouthwash, over the counter or prescription drugs like cough syrups and pills, carbonated drinks and beverages, toilet soap colorant, tobacco products and the manufacture of dye. It is also seen as a food additive in fruit juices, sauces, and salad dressings.
  • Potassium benzoate: Ever tasted Pepsi’s Tropicana Twister Soda? Then you have had an intake of potassium benzoate into your body. You can also find it in olives, sauces, pastry and pie fillings, low-fat salad dressings, jellies, and jams. 

FINAL WORDS

Although there has been no direct life-threatening disease directly associated with the intake of these substances, moderate use should be employed when using it. There are many additives to food where studies could not find a concrete link to any major illnesses.

It is advisable to consume foods that are natural and wholesome. Studies change over time to reveal findings that are alarming. I doubt you would ever find that strawberries or broccoli by itself is a natural carcinogen. However, an ingredient that is manufactured in a lab should be treated with suspicion.

sodium benzoate has no business in your food

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