Sodium benzoate is a preservative formed as a sodium salt of benzoic acid. Sodium benzoate is used to inhibit growth of microbes in acidic conditions, commonly soft drinks, pickles, juice, and condiments.
In a study of isolated white blood cells, sodium benzoate damaged DNA and had mutagenic and cytotoxic effects. Some studies have found that artificial colors when consumed alongside sodium benzoate induce hyperactivity in children. When present with ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate may react to form benzene. See: Benzene.
In the US sodium benzoate is permitted at a maximum level of 0.1% of the food.
Soft drinks, fruit juice, pickles, condiments, sauces, salad dressings