The US Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that the levels of cancer-causing chemical benzene in soft drinks pose no safety concerns.
The agency began testing the beverages in November after a private laboratory found low levels of benzene in sodas that contained both benzoate and ascorbic acid.
While a few of the drinks sampled had slightly elevated levels of benzene, the vast majority did not have any benzene or had levels that were below the US federal limit for drinking water.
The vast majority of beverages sampled contain either no detectable benzene or levels below the limit for drinking water, and do not suggest a safety concern, wrote in a letter released Tuesday Robert E. Brackett, the director of the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The agency will continue to sample more beverages before releasing its findings. Once FDA has completed its beverage survey we will determine what, if any, additional action is necessary to protect the public health and to ensure that the levels of benzene in soft drinks marketed in the future are as low as possible, Brackett wrote.
The Environmental Working Group asked the FDA to warn the public about popular soft drinks containing two ingredients that can form cancer-causing chemical benzene. The ingredients are ascorbic acid and benzoate preservatives, also known as Vitamin C and sodium or potassium benzoate.
Notably, they don't give us the data, Richard Wiles, the group's senior vice president, told the Associated Press. We simply asked them to disclose the results of their testing. If there's nothing to hide, why won't they show us numbers? It might be a small percentage, but there is some percentage of drinks that have very elevated levels of benzene.