August 21st, 2017
We all want to make sure that the food and drink we are consuming is good for us. Many people have switched to organic foods or specific diets to try and lead a better lifestyle. Healthy food choices help us to take better care of our bodies and to ensure we can avoid any unnecessary health problems. But what specifically should you be looking for in your food choices?
You may have heard about different substances and chemicals in foods when browsing online or watching the news. Chemicals and ingredients in foods are usually used in order to keep foods safe or to help them last longer. There is lot of information online about certain preservatives and additives in food and sometimes, this information overload can be quite daunting. Which information is correct? What preservatives should I avoid? Many packaged foods and drinks have certain additives, and one such preservative that has had some coverage recently is Benzoic Acid. To help clear things up, we’re going to take a good look at what exactly benzoic acid is, how it is used, what the problems with it are and who it affects.
The earliest use of benzoic acid, also known as benzenemethanoic acid or carboxybenzene, appeared during the 16th century. Other benzoates can include sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate and calcium benzoate. Benzoic acid actually occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, but on a large scale, it is produced from toluene. Toluene is also a naturally occurring substance found in crude oil, and is created during the production of gasoline.
Today, benzoic acid is a food preservative that is approved for use in many countries, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Benzoic acid is often used in various foods such as carbonated drinks, baked goods, jams and candy, as well as other products like cosmetics and personal care items, such as mouthwash and shampoo. This would suggest that it is a safe additive to use, right?
Not necessarily. Although it would take a substantial amount of benzoic acid to be lethal to humans, high exposure levels can be poisonous. Another worry is the interaction between benzoic acid salts and ascorbic acid in soft drinks. This causes small quantities of benzene to develop. Benzene is toxic and has been linked to various forms of cancer, making this interaction quite a worry.
As previously mentioned, it does take quite a large amount of the benzoic acid preservative to be lethal to humans, however large quantities of benzoic acid can be poisonous to animals as well.
In animals, toxicity caused by benzoic acid has produced symptoms such as diarrhea, tremors, hypoactivity, weakness in the muscles and emaciation. In cats, these symptoms extended to skin sensitivity, aggression and subjects collapsing at high doses. This then leads to degenerative changes in the kidneys, lungs and liver.
For humans, there have been reports of increased symptoms of asthma, increased mucus membrane inflammation in the nose and rash irritations on the skin. After exposure to benzoic acid, the symptoms reduced and disappeared after a few hours.
Like many other substances and additives, some people will feel and experience the side effects of benzoic acid more so than others. It appears to have a higher impact on those with liver diseases, in particular hepatitis and cirrhosis, as well as people who are sensitive to using aspirin. The majority of those affected experience asthma attacks, stomach upset, skin rashes, and itching or irritated eyes.
Children also appear to be at a higher risk of the symptoms of benzoic acid. Additional symptoms in children can include neurological disorders. There have also been potential links between sodium benzoate and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which could either be enhanced or triggered by the preservative.
Because there are so many health implications with this particular food preservative, it’s a good reason to avoid using it in our foods altogether. As a safety measure, removing this preservative is the safest option for our consumers. By providing high quality products with traditional recipes, we want to make sure the foods that we create are safe and nutritious. As well as this, you can rest easy knowing that you are providing delicious and healthy foods for you and your family.