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« 3/19/2006 | Main | Heh »

New Benzene-Flavored Cola!

How's your soda? Nice and cold? Full of cancer-causing benzene?

The British coverage:

Traces of a carcinogenic chemical have been found in soft drinks at eight times the level permitted in drinking water, it was revealed last night.

Tests conducted on 230 drinks on sale in Britain and France have identified high levels of benzene, a compound known to cause cancer, according to the Food Standards Agency. There is a legal limit of one part per billion of benzene in British drinking water. The latest tests revealed levels of up to eight parts per billion in some soft drinks.

Benzene has been linked to leukaemia and other cancers of the blood. Traces found in Perrier water 15 years ago led to the withdrawal of more than 160 million bottles worldwide. The disclosure has prompted food safety campaigners to demand that the Government reveal which products contain benzene. At present, the drinks' identities have not been revealed.

Versus the American coverage:

When small amounts of benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical, were found in some soft drinks 16 years ago, the Food and Drug Administration never told the public.

That's because the beverage industry told the government it would handle the problem and the FDA thought the problem was solved.

A decade and a half later, benzene has turned up again. The FDA has found levels in some soft drinks higher than what it found in 1990, and two to four times higher than what's considered safe for drinking water.

Both the FDA and the beverage industry said the amounts were small and that the problem didn't appear to be widespread.

"People shouldn't overreact," said Kevin Keane, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association. "It's a very small number of products and not major brands."

Yes, that's right. We covered it up because the soft drink companies asked us to. People shouldn't overreact. It's just benzene, afterall. I mean, here are the possible health effects:

Short-term: EPA has found benzene to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: temporary nervous system disorders, immune system depression, anemia.

Long-term: Benzene has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: chromosome aberrations, cancer.

Nothing to get too worked up about. Just a little cancer. Mebbe a little failure of the nervous system.

I think my favorite parts are when the FDA's "top food safety expert" says we breathe more benzene than we get from drinking a can of soda, and that it's "tough to compare" the levels of "acceptable" benzene in soda to the levels set for water because people drink more water. Hi. Who's reassured now? We breathe more benzene than there is in a can of soda so we can all go back inside and continue on with our lives. Let's not consider the side of the argument that says benzene is bad for us and we already have a problem because it's in the air so we certainly would be at greater risk ingesting it, as well as inhaling it. Also, I've seen people. They drink soda. Lots of it. If they're drinking water, it's only because they snorted it by accident in the shower or because you need water to make soda. Water and benzene, apparently.

We're off the soda again. That's a warning to any of you who plan on visiting us and expect liquid refreshment. It's warm beet juice for the lot of you.

By min | March 20, 2006, 3:03 PM | Liberal Outrage


Look, we're Americans. We know what we're getting into when we drink things. So what if I have to see a neurologist for unexplained neurological aberrations and after administering every test they have they can't figure out the problem. So what if I've been on a 2-4 liter of cola/day regimen for like 15 years. What business is it of the government's?!

the thing that upsets me the most about this, is that 16 years ago was 1990!!!

wtf said that was ok.

i'm on to your little blog...enjoy it for now. bwah, ha ha ha