Food Law News - UK - 2008

FSA News item, 24 November 2008

ADDITIVES - Survey on preservative levels in soft drinks

Levels of the preservatives benzoate and sorbate in soft drinks are within legal limits, according to a new survey by the Food Standards Agency.

The survey ran between January and May 2008 and analysed 250 fizzy and still soft drinks from ten different regions in the UK. Ninety nine per cent of the samples were within the legal limits and were labelled correctly. Only one sample was over the limit for benzoates set by additive rules. The level found did not pose a concern for people's health but the manufacturer and local authority were both notified. The local authority is now working with the manufacturer to ensure the product complies with the additive laws. In addition, two other drinks failed to declare sorbic acid accurately on the ingredients label. These products will now be relabelled by the brand owner.

Clair Baynton, Head of Novel Foods, Additives and Supplements Division at the Food Standards Agency, said: 'It's good to see that on the whole the drinks industry are complying with the EU law on levels and labelling for benzoates and sorbates. These additives help to stop bacteria that can grow in fizzy and soft drinks.'

The full survey and results can be found on the FSA web site.

The science behind the story

Benzoates (E210-213) and sorbates (E200, E202-203) are food preservatives often used in combination in soft drinks, such as fizzy drinks and squashes. Benzoates and sorbates are used as preservatives to prevent growth of yeasts, moulds and bacteria that can grow in these drinks and help to extend their shelf life and safety. Current scientific evidence suggests these preservatives do not pose a risk to health at permitted levels.

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