Washington A government analysis of more than 100 soft drinks and other beverages turned up five with levels of cancer-causing benzene that exceed federal drinking-water standards, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.
The companies that make the drinks have been alerted and have reformulated their products or plan to do so, the FDA said. Government health officials maintain there is no safety concern, an opinion not shared by at least one environmental group.
The five drinks listed by the government were Safeway Select Diet Orange, Crush Pineapple, AquaCal Strawberry Flavored Water Beverage, Crystal Light Sunrise Classic Orange and Giant Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail. The high levels of benzene were found in specific production lots of the drinks, the FDA said.
Benzene, a chemical linked to leukemia, can form in soft drinks containing two ingredients: Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, and preservatives sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate.
Scientists say factors such as heat or light exposure can trigger a reaction that forms benzene in the beverages.