Survey results of benzene in soft drinks and other beverages by headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Jan 23;56(2):571-6. doi: 10.1021/jf072479l. Epub 2007 Dec 12.


Benzene, a carcinogen that can cause cancer in humans, may form at nanogram per gram levels in some beverages containing both benzoate salts and ascorbic or erythorbic acids. Through a series of reactions, a hydroxyl radical forms that can decarboxylate benzoate to form benzene. Elevated temperatures and light stimulate these reactions, while sugar and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) can inhibit them. A headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method for the determination of benzene in beverages was developed and validated. The method was used to conduct a survey of 199 soft drinks and other beverages. The vast majority of beverages sampled contained either no detectable benzene or levels below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water limit of 5 ng/g. Beverages found to contain 5 ng/g benzene or more were reformulated by the manufacturers. The amount of benzene found in the reformulated beverages ranged from none detected to 1.1 ng/g.

MeSH terms

  • Benzene / analysis*
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Carbonated Beverages / analysis*
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry*
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Carcinogens
  • Benzene