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beverages and a cocktail mix with added benzoate. The highest benzene concentration found was 121 ppb in liquid smoke. Little or no benzene was found in foods containing naturally occurring benzoates and ascorbic acid. However, most foods and beverages containing added benzoate and ascorbate were found to contain benzene amounts ranging from less than 1 to 38 ppb. In 2001, an Italian survey was conducted to determine benzene and other VOCs in 60 beverages (35). Benzene was detected at low concentrations in all the samples. Regular and diet soft drinks, orange juice, and carbonated orange juice were analyzed and found to contain benzene amounts that ranged from 0.7 to 2.9 ppb. In 2005, a few US beverages containing benzoate and ascorbic acid were once again found to contain benzene above the US and Canadian 5 ppb maximum level for benzene in drinking water (74, 75). The reoccurrence of this problem prompted global investigations of benzene in beverages. In general, the surveys were targeted at products that contained added benzoate and ascorbic acid, and most samples were collected from retail markets. In a survey conducted in the United Kingdom, 107 of the 150 soft drinks did not contain benzene greater than 1 ppb (38). The majority of these beverages contained benzoate and ascorbic acid. Thirty-eight samples were found to contain benzene that ranged from 1 to 10 ppb. Four products had benzene concentrations of more than 10 ppb. The highest benzene concentration found was 28 ppb in a diet soft drink. In a survey conducted in the United States, 199 soft drinks and other beverages were analyzed (43, 76). More than 90% of the samples analyzed did not contain benzene greater than 5 ppb and most samples contained less than 1 ppb. Nine beverage products were found to contain benzene above the US EPA MCL of 5 ppb for drinking water; all of the products contained added ascorbic acid and either added benzoate (seven products) or an unknown amount of naturally occurring benzoic acid (two cranberry juice products). The concentration of benzene as high as 89 ppb was found in a black cherry beverage. The amount of benzene found in this product was likely the result of the product s handling in the retail market. The sample analyzed was purchased from a retail store several months beyond the manufacturer s sell-by date. Multiple lots of a diet soft drink with added benzoate and ascorbic acid also were found to contain benzene above the EPA MCL; the highest concentration found in this product was 79 ppb. Two lots of a diet or light cranberry juice with added ascorbic acid were found to contain 5.4 and 9.9 ppb benzene. In comparison, cranberry juices with added ascorbic acid and sugar were found to contain 2.3 ppb benzene or less. Subsequent analyses of the products reformulated by the manufacturers showed that benzene concentrations were signi cantly reduced compared with levels found in the original formulations, and all were well below 5 ppb. In a survey conducted in South Korea, 36 of 37 beverages analyzed were found to contain benzene at concentrations ranging from 1.7 to 263 ppb (77). All of the beverages contained benzoate and ascorbic acid. Repeat sampling
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of 30 of those products was conducted in order to analyze the products soon after their date of manufacture. Twenty-seven of the products were found to contain benzene at concentrations ranging from 5.7 to 87.7 ppb. In Australia, a Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) survey included 68 avored beverages (78). Among the samples analyzed, 29 were found to contain benzene of more than 1 ppb; four samples contained benzene greater than 5 ppb, and ve samples contained benzene of more than 10 ppb. Benzene concentrations found in the beverages ranged from less than 1 to 40 ppb. In Ireland, 76 samples of soft drinks, squashes, and avored water were analyzed (79). Sixty-nine samples contained no benzene. Only two diet products were found to contain benzene greater than 10 ppb; the highest concentration found was 91 ppb in one product that was analyzed after the best before date. Five additional samples of that product were analyzed before the best before date, and the benzene concentrations found ranged from 9 to 17 ppb. In Canada, a survey of 124 soft drinks and beverages was conducted (27). Ninety percent of the samples analyzed were found to contain 2.5 ppb or less benzene. Approximately 60% of the beverages analyzed were found to contain less than 1 ppb benzene. Six products were found to contain benzene above the Canadian MAC of 5 ppb for benzene in drinking water; two of those products were found to contain benzene above the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline of 10 ppb in drinking water. The highest benzene concentration found was 23 ppb in a low-calorie soft drink speci cally marketed to children. Two cranberry cocktail products without declared benzoate and sweetened with sugar were found to contain 0.6 and 1.3 ppb benzene. Subsequent analyses of products reformulated by the manufacturer showed that benzene concentrations were signi cantly reduced compared with levels found in the original formulations. In the UK, Canadian, and US surveys, wide variations in benzene concentration were observed for different lots of the same product. For example, a UK low-calorie lemon beverage was found to contain benzene at concentrations that ranged from 11 to 28 ppb; a Canadian cocktail mix was found to contain amounts of benzene that ranged from 2.5 to 13 ppb; and a US diet orange beverage was found to contain concentrations of benzene that ranged from none detected to 82 ppb. Product formulation and storage conditions likely contributed to the variability observed in different lots of the same product (see Section 4.3.5). Results from these surveys also suggest that diet or light beverages formulated with arti cial sweeteners and low in sugar have the potential to form higher amounts of benzene.
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