Sodium benzoate is a food additive (a preservative) that is frequently found in food products. It is a type of salt that has bacteriostatic properties. Though some acidic food products and spices (apples, plums, cinnamon) naturally contain sodium benzoate, it is often added as a preservative to such foods as salad dressings, vinegar, juices, jams etc. It is also applied to prevent fermentation in wine. Sodium benzoate is contained in some drugs that are meant to treat metabolic disorders as well.
Sodium benzoate is considered to be safe if it is consumed in small dozes. That is why its concentration in food products is restricted in many countries by the food authorities. However, it is reported that when sodium benzoate is mixed with other food additives, such as potassium benzoate or ascorbic acid, it produces benzene, which is known to be a carcinogen.
There exist different points of view related to sodium benzoate side effects. Though this food additive was previously considered by the FDA a safe one, this statement is nowadays questionable. Some researchers assume that this food additive can damage some parts of human DNA, which may lead to the Parkinson’s disease and even accelerate the process of aging. Moreover, according to the research, published in 2007 by the FSA, sodium benzoate is believed to be among the causes of children’s hyperactivity. Among the other potential health concerns associated with sodium benzoate, allergy (including itching, skin rash, hives, edema, swelling of face etc.), anemia, liver and kidney failures as well as heart and brain damage have been reported by the consumers. Some health complications caused by this food additive do not require medical treatment. Nonetheless, there are health conditions, which require urgent medical help, including difficulty or rapid breathing, disorientation, swelling of the belly, legs or arms, gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain) etc. However, these are just the assumptions that have not been proved yet. At present, the research is being conducted to identify whether sodium benzoate causes potentially dangerous health conditions or not. That is why it is up to you to decide whether to buy sodium benzoate food products or not.
Those people, who are concerned about their health, are recommended to consume food products that do not contain this food additive. Just inquire where to buy sodium benzoate free foods and purchase products there. If you need to undergo medical treatment, you may also ask your doctor not to prescribe you medicines that contain sodium benzoate.