Last week I wrote a health article on how chemicals we use everyday around our homes and offices can be detrimental to our health, and very damaging to unborn and young children.
This week there has been even more worrying health information given about the additive E211 in soft drinks, especially at this time of the year when some children drink vast quantities. Parents have been warned that they should limit the consumption of their children's soft drinks due to health fears over the safety of a commonly used preservative E211, as laboratory tests have shown that it can switch off vital parts of DNA, causing serious damage to cells. Concern is also given to the fact that tests suggest this could also result in other degenerative diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's disease.
E211 is found in many soft drinks including Fanta and Pepsi Max and many other brands of highly consumed carbonated drinks. Peter Piper, a molecular biologist expert carried out the research into sodium benzoate or E211 at Sheffield University, where he found that it could damage the mitochrondia, an important area in DNA. However the Food Standards Agency and drink manufacturers insist that rigorous assessments are made before the approval and use of any of their additives, and it is deemed safe to health in the UK, EU and US for food use. The FSA says that consumers can continue to enjoy soft drinks knowing they are safe.
However, Peter Piper said that "these chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochrondia to the point that they totally inactivate it, they knock it out altogether". The mitochrondia consumes oxygen which gives you energy, if this becomes damaged the cell starts to malfunction seriously. With this there is a whole range of diseases effecting your health now being linked - through damage to DNA, Parkinson's foremost, but also several other neuro-degenerative diseases and of course the whole general health process of ageing.
Sodium benzoate is regularly used to kill bacteria, yeast and fungi in soft drinks, fruit juices, jams and spreads, and salad dressings, as well as many other products. But it is in the soft drinks, which are consumed in higher quantities, and been used for decades by the carbonated drinks industry that is causing concern. Peter piper acknowledges the fact that sodium benzoate had passed the UK, European Union and US food safety tests, but claims that these tests were too old to be reliable, and that by the criteria of modern safety testing are inadequate for our health
Safety testing in other areas has moved forward in the past 50 years with new research, and so rigorous new tests should be conducted on E211 and other additives. Sodium benzoate is found naturally in some fruit such as apples, cranberries, prunes, greengages and also cinnamon and cloves and as you know these are good for your health. When sodium benzoate is mixed with vitamin C it forms a carcinogenic substance called benzene.
I believe that we should not stop drinking carbonated drinks altogether, but the consumption should be limited, and maybe production of carbonated drinks with a shorter shelf life, needing less additives would be a good step for manufacturers to take. This would probably bring the price of carbonated drinks more into line with healthier alternatives available, as at the moment they are the cheapest option in most supermarkets.
Hope you find this interesting, as I do not believe any of us are aware just how many different chemicals we consume regularly and the effect they have on our health, especially children.