The aim of this study was to determine the amount of benzene present in soft drinks sold in Florence (Italy). We analyzed 28 different types of soft drinks, by measuring concentrations of benzoic acid, sorbic acid, ascorbic acid (using high performance liquid chromatography with UV detection) and benzene (using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry). Data was analysed by using SPSS 18.0.Traces of benzene were detected in all analyzed beverages, with a mean concentration of 0.45 µg/L (range: 0.15-2.36 µg/L). Statistically significant differences in mean benzene concentrations were found between beverages according to the type of additive indicated on the drink label, with higher concentrations found in beverages containing both ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate. Two citrus fruit-based drinks were found to have benzene levels above the European limit for benzene in drinking water of 1 µg /L. Sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid were also detected in the two drinks.In conclusion, not all soft drink producers have taken steps to eliminate benzoic acid from their soft drinks and thereby reduce the risk of formation of benzene, as recommended by the European Commission. Furthermore, the presence of benzene in trace amounts in all beverages suggests that migration of constituents of plastic packaging materials or air-borne contamination may be occurring.