What is Sodium Benzoate?

sodium_benzoate When I went through my extensive patch testing for allergies back in 2010, it was found that I'm allergic to sodium benzoate.

What is sodium benzoate, you ask?

It's a preservative. When dissolved in water, it's the sodium salt of benzoic acid. In the food additive world, it has the E number E211. By the way, what is up with the E numbers? Way to make things more elusive and confusing for the general public...

Our old pal sodium benzoate seems to have some negative effects as well. You really need to be careful of what you're mixing it with. When mixed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it creates benzene which causes cancer and damages DNA. NOT GOOD. Sodium benzoate may also create hyper-activity, but that hasn't been 100% proven. Something to keep an eye out for, though.

So, where are some of the places you can find sodium benzoate?

  • soda
  • carbonated beverages
  • salad dressing
  • jam
  • packaged foods such as hummus
  • fruit juice
  • pickles
  • condiments
  • salsa
  • dips
  • medicines
  • cosmetics
  • It's also used in fireworks to make that "whistling" sound. Yummy, right?

Another tip: if you have problems with sodium benzoate, you may also want to avoid benzoic acid. One place you can find benzoic acid is champage. Any time I drink it, it gets hard to breathe. Same thing with prosecco and all those fun, alcoholic bubbly drinks.

I'd love to find an organic champagne for special occasions...

Anybody else out there with a sodium benzoate allergy?