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Mon Jul 24, 2017, 07:48 PM

Derek Lowe's reaction to Panera's dopey (and misleading) sodium benzoate ad campaign


If you Google ďsodium benzoateĒ, prepare yourself for a firehose of stupidity. Thereís a long list of sites that are convinced that while benzoic acid is a fresh, healthy, natural ingredient, that sodium benzoate is a devilish industrial chemical that will rot your soul. No, really, thatís pretty much how it goes, and since I know that the great majority of the readers here have a good understanding of acid/base chemistry, you all must be furrowing their brows in puzzlement about that one. Iím with you. I think that my favorite, in a way, is the assertion that when sodium benzoate is exposed to ascorbic acid, that it immediately converts to benzene, which cues up a look at benzeneís (most definitely alarming) toxicity. The source for this would have to be this paper from 2008, which analyzed a long list of beverages for benzene contamination, and found that the only detectable levels were in carrot juice intended for infants. Benzene levels correlated with copper and/or iron levels, and the authors believe that the benzoic acid in carrots is catalytically decarboxylated to a small extent during the heat treatment of the juice. But even the sites that donít bring that up generally work in something about how sodium benzoate causes Alzheimerís, Parkinsonís, multiple sclerosis, cancers of all types, you name it. And you thought only aspartame could do it all. Somehow, turning fresh, pure benzoic acid into its sodium salt puts the Curse of the Vat onto it, and this evil stain can never be removed, as we all know.

Benzoic acid is found (as a completely natural metabolite and intermediate) in a huge variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables Ė berries are particularly high in it, but itís also found in aromatic spices such as cinnamon and allspice. Thereís not much in meat, but it is found in seafood, and in milk, particularly in fermented milk products such as completely natural, non-GMO yogurt made by people wearing unbleached hemp clothing and singing to each other about their feelings. OK, Iíll try to resist going off like that again (itís difficult), but itís certainly true that the bacterial metabolic pathways in fermented milk products like cheese and yogurt produce a good amount of benzoate. (If youíre wondering, chemically, where it comes from, itís apparently via the microbial breakdown of hippuric acid and phenylalanine, and indirectly from tyrosine as well).

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Reply Derek Lowe's reaction to Panera's dopey (and misleading) sodium benzoate ad campaign (Original post)
ProfessorPlum Jul 2017 OP
progressoid Jul 2017 #1
ProfessorPlum Jul 2017 #2

Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Fri Jul 28, 2017, 12:16 AM

1. Gotta say, I kind of like a couple of the things on their menu.

But their "clean food" ad campaign is idiotic.

I've only eaten there a couple time a year. And it's not because they got rid of GMOs or sodium benzoate. It was just convenient with free wifi.

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Response to progressoid (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 28, 2017, 06:28 AM

2. I love the restaurant, and I really like their food

but this is the equivalent (as some critics have pointed out) of saying that salt is used to melt ice on the highways in the winter, so it shouldn't be in food.

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