Whole Foods has discontinued selling Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl Margarita after determining the beverage contains the preservative sodium benzoate, a potential carcinogen.
Frankel reportedly hyped the drink on her web site as “the margarita you can trust with all natural ingredients and no preservatives”. The “no “preservatives claim was apparently removed, and Frankel has since sold her 2-year-old drink line this past spring for $120 million.
A study published in The Lancet found “Artificial colors or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the general population. In most cases, the increase was nearly 50 percent greater than that observed in children who consumed fruit juice without additives.”
Nine Facts about Sodium Benzoate, a Preservative, courtesy of The Fooducate Blog:
1. Sodium benzoate can also be listed on a food label as “E211”, and is a preservative used to prevent food from molding.
2. It is especially used to preserve acidic foods and beverages such as pickles, salad dressings, fruit juices, and soft drinks.
3. An unfortunate side effect is that when mixed with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) sodium benzoate transforms into benzene, a known carcinogen and DNA damager.
4. The rate at which benzene is formed is affected by light and heat, as well as the time spent on a shelf from production to consumption.
5. The FDA has limited usage of sodium benzoate to 0.1% of a product by weight. The limit for safe drinking water as set by the US government is less than 5 parts per billion (far less tolerance).
6. Some studies have shown that sodium benzoate along with artificial food colorings can cause children with ADHD to be more hyperactive.
7. Coca Cola announced in 2008 that it would remove sodium benzoate from its products by the end of the the year.
8. A close relative of sodium benzoate is pottasium benzoate (E212), also known as benzoic acid.
9. Sodium benzoate is found naturally in tiny amounts in fruits such as cranberries, prunes, and apples.
If sodium benzoate wasn’t listed as an ingredient in Frankel’s Skinnygirl Margarita, surly we’re not alone in wondering what other chemicals are added to food products that are not labeled.
According to the FDA:
“Food manufacturers are required to list all ingredients in the food on the label. On a product label, the ingredients are listed in order of predominance, with the ingredients used in the greatest amount first, followed in descending order by those in smaller amounts.
“The label must list the names of any FDA-certified color additives (e.g., FD&C Blue No. 1 or the abbreviated name, Blue 1). But some ingredients can be listed collectively as “flavors,” “spices,” “artificial flavoring,” or in the case of color additives exempt from certification, “artificial colors”, without naming each one. Declaration of an allergenic ingredient in a collective or single color, flavor, or spice could be accomplished by simply naming the allergenic ingredient in the ingredient list”.
But as Sustainable Table points out, many substances used in food production are not officially classified as ‘additives’, and are not regulated with human consumption in mind, yet these additives — pesticides, antibiotics, and heavy metals in industrial animal feed — still end up in our food.
“Irradiation, which is used to disinfect and preserve meat and dairy products, is another common practice that may pose a health threat, yet irradiated food is not required to be labeled as such. In August of 2008, the FDA approved a rule allowing ionizing radiation for the control of food borne pathogens and extension of shelf-life in fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach”.
And as Natural News notes, residues of solvents, pesticides and other chemicals do not have to be listed, along with cancer-causing chemicals such as acrylamides formed in food during high-heat processing.