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F.ood & H.ealth : & P.olitics Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Soft drink makers settle benzene case
By Ben Wasserman
Aug 26, 2006, 17:22

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Aug 26 ( - As part of a lawsuit settlement, two soft drink companies agreed not to use ingredients in their products, which would otherwise form cancer-causing benzene.

In Zone Brands Inc, based out of Atlanta and TalkingRain Beverage Co. based out of Preston, Washington were sued by parents over drinks containing benzene.

Benzene can be formed in soft drinks including fruit juices when the drinks contain both vitamin C and potassium or sodium benzoate, a preservative used to extend the shelf life of soft drinks.

The drink makers denied that their soft drinks caused any harm. Benzene is present in the polluted air and water. And certain preservatives used to preserve certain foods may also contain benzene. According to the Food and Drug Administration, benzene can be found in some fruits such as banana naturally at a low level.

The FDA has found benzene in quite some undisclosed brands with a few exceeding the limit proposed by the World Health Organization (10 parts per billion in drinking water), and the FDA (5 parts per billion).

The government agency said the level of benzene present in soft drinks poses no threats to human health. The FDA did not disclose the brands nor ask any soft drink to be recalled over benzene.

Other soft drink companies are facing similar lawsuits in Kansas, Massachusetts, Florida, California and New Jersey, The AP reported.

Andrew Rainer, the Boston lawyer who represents the parents, said the suit should prod bigger companies to change their formulations to avoid benzene in their products.

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