Does consuming sodium benzoate (preservative E211) cause problems during pregnancy?

Does consuming sodium benzoate (preservative E211) cause problems during pregnancy?

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There seems to be strong evidence to support the claim that sodium benzoate (E211) causes hyperactivity in young children, e.g. Bateman et al. (2004) and McCann et al. (2007). This leads me to consider whether or not E211 is harmful during pregnancy.

A study by Mowafy et al. (2001) found a slight decrease in survival rates for pups of pregnant rats given sodium benzoate; they also found a more significant drop in mean weight of their pups.

Question: Could the consumption of sodium benzoate by the mother be harmful during human pregnancy? How would this be the case?


  • Bateman, B., Warner, J.O., Hutchinson, E., Dean, T., Rowlandson, P., Gant, C., Grundy, J., Fitzgerald, C. & Stevenson, J. (2004) The effects of a double blind, placebo controlled, artificial food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Archives of Disease in Childhood. [Online] 89 (6), 506 -511.
  • McCann, D., Barrett, A., Cooper, A., Crumpler, D., Dalen, L., Grimshaw, K., Kitchin, E., Lok, K., Porteous, L., Prince, E., Sonuga-Barke, E., Warner, J.O. & Stevenson, J. (2007) Food additives and hyperactive behaviour in 3-year-old and 8/9-year-old children in the community: a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. The Lancet. [Online] 370 (9598), 1560-1567.
  • Mowafy, A.R., Darwish, A.M., El-Kholy, S.A. & Abdel-Mohsen, S.H. (2001) Effect of food preservatives on mother rats and survival of their offspring. The Journal of the Egyptian Public Health Association. 76 (3-4), 281-295.

There is some evidence to support the idea that sodium benzoate may be detrimental to the development of the foetus:


DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Classified Reproductive system/toxin/female, Reproductive system/ toxin/male [SUSPECTED].

MSDS for Sodium Benzoate

This has been shown experimentally in rats by Minor & Becker in 1971. They introduced high doses of up to 1000 mgkg-1 intraperitoneally and recorded reduction in foetal weight and "gross anomalies". Whilst I struggled to find a copy of their original paper, it is referenced in the Catalog of Teratogenic Agents1 (Thomas H. Shepard).

There is some evidence to refute this, however. The Acceptable Daily Intake limits on sodium benzoate is a maximum of 5mgkg-1, at this dose there is no noticeable effect of exposure. (2,3) The latter paper by EC food safety standards goes further:

There appear to be sufficient studies to conclude absence of teratogenic potential, with an overall NOAEL* for developmental toxicity of 500 mg/kg bw/day, based on effects on fetal weight.

*(No observed adverse effect level)

So the consensus from the food safety bodies suggests that E211 should not pose harm to an unborn child in the quantities allowed to be present as an additive.

1 Emire, Ronald J. "306: Benzoate, Sodium." Catalog of Teratogenic Agents. By Thomas H. Shepherd. JHU, 2004. 44-45. Google Books. Google. Web. 10 Feb. 2012.

2 Nair, B. "Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Benzyl Alcohol, Benzoic Acid, and Sodium Benzoate." International Journal of Toxicology 20.3 (2001). International Journal of Toxicology. Web. 10 Feb. 2012.

3 Scientific Committee on Food. Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on Benzoic acid and its salts. Rep. 24 Sept. 2002. EUROPEAN COMMISSION HEALTH & CONSUMER PROTECTION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL. 10 Feb. 2012

High blood pressure: Sodium may not be the culprit

Salt has long been vilified as the harbinger of hypertension. However, as research into the condition has delved deeper, it is becoming clear that the story is more complex. The latest study in this arena goes some way toward absolving sodium.

Share on Pinterest Is salt as bad for our health as we thought?

Following a raft of large-scale studies showing that a high salt intake leads to high blood pressure , the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set the recommended sodium intake at 2,300 milligrams per day.

However, a new batch of studies are bringing this guideline into question, and researchers are now asking whether the relationship between hypertension and salt is so clear cut.

The latest research to probe sodium’s role in hypertension is presented today at the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting, taking place in Chicago, IL.

Researcher Lynn L. Moore, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, completed the study with her team.

Moore and her team took data from 2,632 men and women aged between 30 and 64 years, who were part of the Framingham Offspring Study – an offshoot of the Framingham Heart Study. All participants had normal blood pressure at the start of the trial.

Over the 16-year follow-up period, the researchers observed that the participants who consumed under 2,500 milligrams of sodium each day had higher blood pressure than those who consumed higher quantities of sodium.

The results seem counterintuitive. As the authors write: “While we expected dietary sodium intake to be positively associated with both SBP [systolic blood pressure] and DBP [diastolic blood pressure], the opposite was found.”

Although the findings appear to kick against the status quo, they are in line with other recent studies asking similar questions. Research has shown that there is a “J-shaped relationship” between cardiovascular risk and sodium. This means that low-sodium diets and very high-sodium diets both carry a higher risk of heart disease.

Many people in the United States sit in the middle of this curve, where the cardiovascular risk is at its lowest.

“ We saw no evidence that a diet lower in sodium had any long-term beneficial effects on blood pressure. Our findings add to growing evidence that current recommendations for sodium intake may be misguided.”

Lynn L. Moore

The importance of dietary potassium is also underlined in this study. The team found that individuals with the lowest blood pressure were those who had the highest intake of sodium and potassium. Conversely, those with the highest blood pressure had the lowest intake of sodium and potassium.

Moore says: “This study and others point to the importance of higher potassium intakes, in particular, on blood pressure and probably cardiovascular outcomes as well.”

Similar effects were also seen when magnesium and calcium intakes were analysed higher levels were linked to lower blood pressure, and vice versa.

The authors conclude that:

“ These long-term data from the Framingham Study provide no support for lowering sodium intakes among healthy adults to below 2.3 grams per day as recommended. This study does support the finding of a clear inverse association between potassium, magnesium, and calcium and blood pressure change over time.”

Moore wants her study to play a part in shifting dietary decisions throughout the U.S. She says: “I hope that this research will help refocus the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans on the importance of increasing intakes of foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium for the purpose of maintaining a healthy blood pressure.”

Moore also makes it clear that there may be certain people who are particularly sensitive to sodium and who might, therefore, benefit from reducing salt in their diet. Perhaps in the future, methods of screening for salt sensitivity might help to establish which individuals need to be more careful.

As more studies conclude that sodium’s role in hypertension is less vital than once thought, dietary recommendations are sure to change in line with the findings. This changing field of nutrition science is one to watch.


Chemically, ordinary table salt is sodium chloride, a crystalline compound that contains 40 percent sodium. Sodium is also a natural component of many common foods. Your nerves use it to produce impulses and your muscles need it to contract. Since sodium attracts water, your body also uses it to regulate the amount of fluid in your blood, organs and tissues. When your body contains too much sodium, your kidneys remove it by producing more urine. However, if you consume large amounts of sodium, you kidneys might not be able to handle all the excess, allowing too much sodium to remain in your body. This can cause several problems that raise your risk of serious disorders.


About a year ago I blogged about the controversial all-natural sugar alternative called stevia. At the time, I lamented that stevia was not approved by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) to even be called a sweetener. yet! But that may be about to change if a joint venture with The Coca-Cola Company and a major food additive business has anything to say about it (and you KNOW they will because money talks!).

This USA Today story notes that Coke as well as Cargill Foods have decided to take a serious look at a sweetener they want to call rebiana (a shortened word used for Stevia Rebaudiana). Remember that name they have come up with because it's the term these companies are going to be using for stevia soon and it's been three years in the making.

For people who are livin' la vida low-carb and choose to avoid the use of the chemical-based sweeteners that dominate the marketplace, such as saccharin (Sweet 'N Low), aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal), and sucralose (Splenda), many of us have been using stevia instead because it contains ZERO calories and carbohydrates. That's certainly impressive nutritional info for a natural alternative to sugar.

But it's gonna be a bit of an uphill battle to get stevia approved since the FDA has come down so strongly AGAINST approving it while this list of sugar alternatives get a free pass--all of which are made from chemicals. But there are still a lot of people who have concerns over the safety of these products (and I get e-mails from people ALL THE TIME about my support for Splenda--get over it already people. That stuff helped me overcome morbid obesity, so leave it be!).

As a result, that's the allure of having commercial acceptance of stevia in a popular product like Diet Coke. With crazy new product concepts like the vitamin-infused Diet Coke Plus (made with aspartame), the "calorie-burning" Enviga (also sweetened with aspartame and a touch of ACE-K), and their marketing darling of the moment Coke Zero (yep, you guessed it, sweetened with aspartame and ACE-K), this idea of making a Diet Coke with Stevia is the best thing they've come up with since my favorite sugar-free soda Diet Coke with Splenda was released to the market (although they've never given it the proper marketing IMHO!).

Interestingly, stevia IS already being used in Diet Coke--in Japan, where stevia boasts a robust 40% of the sweetener market, as well as in Brazil, China, and nine other industrialized countries. So what's taking America so long to get going with this in this country already? The FDA needs to get its head out of their backside and approve stevia as a sweetener.

Are they afraid of the competition it will give that disgusting NASTY-tame? If so, then GOOD! They should be because it's high time people have other alternatives. I'm tired of seeing Nutrasweet in EVERYTHING sugar-free/low-carb I would want to purchase. Put Splenda or stevia in some of these products already! There's a bunch of us who don't like aspartame at all!

Currently, the Coca-Cola Company has been seriously looking at this since 2004 and last week filed a total of 24 patents to begin removing the sweetest parts of stevia so they can come up with the perfect taste and blend of rebiana to be used in their future versions of Diet Coke.

It's not yet known if this new sweetener will eventually be phased in to replaced aspartame or if it will be mixed with ACE-K or other sweeteners in totally different products altogether. But clearly Coke is ready to put stevia on the fast-track to FDA approval.

As for Cargill Foods, they intend to use this stevia-based sweetener in foods like yogurt, cereal, ice cream, and other sugar-free sweet treats. This is expected to be a huge undertaking that could quite literally shake up the food and beverage industry unlike anything that has come along in the past few decades. This is long overdue in America and I can't wait to see it come.

A Cargill representative said this was a "significant investment," so don't expect them to take no for an answer from self-serving interest groups who will oppose the use of stevia in this manner to cover their bedonkadonks with the artificial sweetener companies. That's why Cargill has already begun the process of petitioning the FDA to use stevia as a food additive. It's gonna be difficult, but I'm confident they'll get approval. Stay tuned!

Although Coke is saying the stevia they have tested in several of their products has performed just as well as the aspartame and sucralose for sweetness, I'm not as convinced about it. Sure, stevia is an excellent product and I have used it myself in various forms, but the black licorice-like bitterness can be a real turn-off to some people. The blend will have to be perfect.

I'm sure if stevia finally does make it into a Diet Coke product in the next few years that they'll make it taste as sweet as possible by very likely using an ACE-K blend. It'll probably resemble the aspartame/ACE-K blends that dominate the Coca-Cola line of sugar-free products today. This will be a HUGE step in the right direction for the world's #1 beverage maker (although I wouldn't mind having more Splenda-sweetened options, too--HINT HINT!).

If rebiana becomes a household name thanks to Coke and Cargill Foods, then you can expect PepsiCo, Dannon, and other rivals in the sugar-free/low-carb market to develop their own versions of stevia-sweetened products--perhaps they'll be allowed to actually call it stevia. Actually, if they're smart, then they'll start working on this NOW!

I've long held that having an "all-natural" sweetener like stevia is already on the cutting edge and it's only a matter of time before it is as widely used in the United States just as it is in Japan today. It's not a matter of if, but when. I can't wait to try a Rebiana Coke with a green stevia leaf on the can as a logo to distinguish it from the other versions. This will be the most unique diet soda product to ever release!

Watch the video: Diese 6 Warnsignale zeigen, dass deine Leber voller Gift ist! (September 2022).


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