E211 Revealed: Evidence highlights new fear over drinks additive - Independent on Sunday
It's best to read the whole, detailed article, but here is an extract:
"The Independent on Sunday's revelations focus on another potential side-effect of soft drinks and one that may have much longer-term implications.
The substance is known as E211, or sodium benzoate, and the findings of Professor Peter Piper, from Sheffield University, represent another challenge to the already blemished reputation of food additives.
New studies have emerged over the past few years that call into question whether E-numbers approved for use in Europe are as harmless as regulators and the food industry suggest.
The most famous of them all is probably E621 - monosodium glutamate, the "flavour enhancer" found in many takeaways and pasties.
In all, the EU sanctions 395 additives: 71 thickeners and emulsifiers, 64 colours, 54 preservatives, 54 antioxidants, 54 anti-caking agents and acidity regulators, 52 miscellaneous, 27 additional chemicals, and 19 flavour enhancers.
Some additives are just innocuous everyday things such as E601 (vitamin B2) and E901 (beeswax), but others have properties that alarm university professors.
Perhaps the most controversial are the "azo dyes", a series of vivid yellow and orange colourings that give a lurid colour to fruit squash, fizzy drinks, sweets, jelly, cakes and other foods often eaten by children. The best-known azo dyes are sunset yellow (E110), quinoline (E104), and tartrazine (E102).
Professor Piper's research touches on a common preservative, sodium benzoate, which is found in everything from Fanta to barbecue sauce.
For some time, there have been fears about the ability of sodium benzoate to form benzene (a carcinogenic chemical) when it reacts with another preservative in soft drinks, ascorbic acid (vitamin C)."
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