We live in an age where we are constantly being warned about the foods we are consuming. Diets are regularly changing; sugar is good for you one moment and bad for you the next! Fat was unhealthy yesterday and healthy today.
We hear about genetically modified plants and the dangers that they pose to our health. Pesticides and chemicals that cause tumours, serious health risks and other alarming side effects are plaguing us evermore. We are hearing more and more stories of young, healthy people discovering cancer, and it unsettles us all.
It makes us question what we are actually eating, when half of the ingredients listed on the back of our food packaging, we don’t even consider because it’s written in scientific codes. We won’t bother to research these codes later.
Sodium Benzoate seems to be the new chemical on everyone’s mind these days. Or perhaps, like me, this is the first time you’re hearing about it.
Knowing the different names sodium benzoate hides behind, I took a walk through my house to check the ingredients of various products. It appeared in my shampoo, my face wash, my mouthwash, my hair mousse, my sweet chilli sauce, salsa dip, Doritos and my coke zero!
Realizing that there is quite a growing concern around this chemical, I suddenly felt quite uncomfortable about its presence in my household items – items that I typically use every single day. It felt like I had just discovered an unwelcome guest living amidst me!
Sodium Benzoate is a food preservative that inhibits microbial growth. It is salt derived from benzoic acid. It is used as a preservative in foods, cosmetics and medicines to increase their shelf life.
It has an E number of E211 and can also be identified as benzoate of soda, benzoate, benzoate acid and benzene. As a preservative, it is a bacteriostatic and fungistatic chemical. This means that it simply inhibits the growth of fungus, and or bacteria. Sodium benzoate occurs naturally in some fruits but the problem comes in when the chemical is synthesised in labs and added to various foods and other products.
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