Sour Spotlight: Sodium Benzoate

I learned months ago of a health warning about sodium benzoate in hummus. I immediately went to my fridge and found that ingredient in the hummus that I ate every day. Yikes! So, I began searching for hummus without this ingredient and put this on my “don’t buy if it has it” list.

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative; therefore, red flags should go up. Sodium benzoate helps extend the shelf life of products, but it is still not something you want to consume. When you consume this additive, it begins to deprive your cells of oxygen. When the cells don’t get the oxygen they need to fight off infection, the immune system is compromised and eventually, cancer can be a concern.

How is sodium benzoate created? Benzoic acid naturally occurs in fruit and not a concern. When this acid reacts with sodium hydroxide, it creates sodium benzoate. This is the sodium salt from benzoic acid and this is what is added to your food.

More harmful reactions: When the sodium benzoate reacts with Vitamins C or E, it forms benzene which is a known carcinogen. What is a carcinogen? Think cancer…it is known to cause cancer.

Why is it in our food? It is one of the least expensive mold inhibitors available. It is often used in acidic foods. Which is why I found it in this lemon juice product (see below):  LemonJuiceFront LemonJuiceLabelWithLabel3

A better alternative: I found this lemon juice at Costco.  This is a Sweeter Honey approved lemon juice.  Only 1 ingredient!


As far as hummus is concerned, you can find hummus without sodium benzoate, but you have to read every label and search a little harder. Most hummus has this preservative, so read those labels!!!  Or make your own!

Bottom Line: Avoid sodium benzoate. Eating occasionally won’t kill you, but if you eat it regularly, it could. While it lengthens the shelf life of food, it can shorten yours!


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