Benzene is a common industrial chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency classifies as a human carcinogen. Long-term exposure can cause leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Benzene isn't an ingredient in soft drinks, but it can form when two commonly found ingredients react: ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C, and the preservatives sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. The reaction can happen when products are exposed to light or heat.
"Soft drinks that contain ascorbic acid and sodium or potassium benzoate include Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry, Fanta Orange, Hawaiian Punch, Mug Root Beer, Pepsi Vanilla, Sierra Mist, Sunkist and Tropicana Lemonade, among others," the letter said.
The signatories, who included experts in pediatrics and activists for student health, asked that state and local education officials halt the marketing and sales of certain soft drinks in schools "until you can look parents in the eye and assure them that their children will suffer no harm."
So soda not only causes problem for teeth & obesity, but also for cancer risks. Great! Only in sodas such as Pepsi & Coke can you find an alluring mix of nutrition-robbing corn syrup, fake coloring, fake flavoring, questionable fake sweeteners, and now, carcinogenic benzene! Yum!
And even more pressing still, why are kids being targeted & lured with soft drinks?
Interestingly, the NYT ran this article a few days ago:
A bipartisan group in Congress plans to introduce legislation today that would prohibit the sale in school not only of French fries but also of other fatty or sugary foods, including soft drinks.
Under the bill, an amendment to the National School Lunch Act, high nutritional standards would be required of all food sold on school premises. That means not just in cafeterias but in vending machines, school stores and snack bars as well, even at fund-raising events.
The measure, which has strong bipartisan support in both houses, would do on a national level what many school districts have been trying to do for years: require that the schools set an example by providing only healthful food and so perhaps reduce the incidence of childhood obesity.
And Thursday night, as I was watching the OC in my room (turns out I DO get Fox, but only if I move my TV to my kitchen floor), I was shocked to see a commercial actually advocating for children's health. You know something's wrong when that's a shock, right? So the commercial (as I remember it) shows a child at the table, and involves the decision of his parent as to whether or not to feed the child fatty cookies. And the voice over actually addresses the health risks of fatty, sugary foods being marketed and fed to children. I was relieved to hear this TV announcer voice of reason noting the fact that such bad eating habits can "take years off your child's life." I actually had to do a double-take: there was a commercial on a national channel warning AGAINST buying sugary snacks? Was I still in the U.S.?
I give a resounding YES! to this tactic. Finally. People clearly need this message. Tuesday night, as I was riding the bus back from Trader Joe's, I watched as a young couple FED THEIR BABY PEPSI. This child was maybe 18 months, definitely not even two years old yet. And they were tipping a bottle of soda into the child's mouth. What the f*#! is wrong with people and the advertising monster in this country?