Coca-Cola rids drink of controversial additive

Posted by Isobel Drake on 27th May 2008

The Coca-Cola Company is planning to remove a potentially damaging additive from their Diet Coke beverages in the UK but the chemical is to continue to be used in Australia.

The controversial chemical Sodium Benzoate, which has been linked to hyperactivity and could deactivate parts of DNA, is to no longer be used in Diet Coke with Coca-Cola claiming the move has been made in response to consumer demand for more natural products. “We are continuously looking at emerging trends and listening to our consumers thoughts about ingredients,” a spokesman told The Daily Mail. “For a number of years we have been moving towards non-artificial colours, flavours and preservatives where possible in our drinks.”

Sodium Benzoate, also known as E211, is utilised by soft drink manufacturers to prevent soft drinks from going mouldy. A recent study by Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology research at Sheffield University, found E211 may switch off vital parts of DNA linked to Parkinson’s disease and cirrhosis of the liver. There has also been claims that when combined with Vitamin C it may form a potentially cancer causing substance with a link to hyperactivity established via a different study.

The research into the additive is quite limited, however, with the UK government-funded Committee on Mutagenicity disregarding the latest research based on the fact that it was completed on yeast cells, which are reportedly weaker than human cells. The Food Standards Agency in the UK still allows the use of the additive and Coca-Cola are committed to using it in drinks like Fanta with higher juice content, citing no suitable alternatives.

The chemical will continue to be added to Diet Coke in Australia with Coca-Cola Amatil stating that the chemical is safe and approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).