Benzene as a Chemical Hazard in Processed Foods

Int J Food Sci. 2015;2015:545640. doi: 10.1155/2015/545640. Epub 2015 Feb 18.

Abstract

This paper presents a literature review on benzene in foods, including toxicological aspects, occurrence, formation mechanisms, and mitigation measures and analyzes data reporting benzene levels in foods. Benzene is recognized by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as carcinogenic to humans, and its presence in foods has been attributed to various potential sources: packaging, storage environment, contaminated drinking water, cooking processes, irradiation processes, and degradation of food preservatives such as benzoates. Since there are no specific limits for benzene levels in beverages and food in general studies have adopted references for drinking water in a range from 1-10 ppb. The presence of benzene has been reported in various food/beverage substances with soft drinks often reported in the literature. Although the analyses reported low levels of benzene in most of the samples studied, some exceeded permissible limits. The available data on dietary exposure to benzene is minimal from the viewpoint of public health. Often benzene levels were low as to be considered negligible and not a consumer health risk, but there is still a need of more studies for a better understanding of their effects on human health through the ingestion of contaminated food.

Publication types

  • Review