Evaluation of accelerated UV and thermal testing for benzene formation in beverages containing benzoate and ascorbic acid

J Food Sci. 2010 Apr;75(3):C263-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01536.x.


Under certain conditions, benzene can form in beverages containing benzoic and ascorbic acids. The American Beverage Assn. (ABA) has published guidelines to help manufacturers mitigate benzene formation in beverages. These guidelines recommend accelerated testing conditions to test product formulations, because exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light and elevated temperature over the shelf life of the beverage may result in benzene formation in products containing benzoic and ascorbic acids. In this study, the effects of UVA exposure on benzene formation were determined. Benzene formation was examined for samples contained in UV stabilized and non-UV stabilized packaging. Additionally, the usefulness of accelerated thermal testing to simulate end of shelf-life benzene formation was evaluated for samples containing either benzoic or ascorbic acid, or both. The 24 h studies showed that under intense UVA light benzene levels increased by as much as 53% in model solutions stored in non-UV stabilized bottles, whereas the use of UV stabilized polyethylene terephthalate bottles reduced benzene formation by about 13% relative to the non-UV stabilized bottles. Similar trends were observed for the 7 d study. Retail beverages and positive and negative controls were used to study the accelerated thermal testing conditions. The amount of benzene found in the positive controls and cranberry juice suggests that testing at 40 degrees C for 14 d may more reliably simulate end of shelf-life benzene formation in beverages. Except for cranberry juice, retail beverages were not found to contain detectable amounts of benzene (<0.05 ng/g) at the end of their shelf lives.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / chemistry*
  • Ascorbic Acid / radiation effects
  • Benzene / analysis*
  • Benzoates / chemistry*
  • Benzoates / radiation effects
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Beverages / radiation effects
  • Food Analysis / methods*
  • Food Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Food Packaging
  • Food-Processing Industry / methods
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Models, Chemical
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates / chemistry
  • Time Factors
  • Triazoles / chemistry
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Vaccinium macrocarpon / chemistry


  • Benzoates
  • Phenols
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates
  • Triazoles
  • Benzene
  • Ascorbic Acid