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Soft drinks

Soft drink companies agree to remove benzene-forming chemical from kids' drinks following lawsuit

Friday, August 25, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: soft drinks, benzene, grocery warning


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(NewsTarget) A group of parents, which sued two beverage makers in the District of Columbia Superior Court over the leukemia-linked ingredient benzene in their drinks, achieved a victory yesterday when both companies agreed to eliminate the ingredient as part of a settlement.

Benzene -- found in products like Zone Brands' "BellyWashers" drinks, which has labels sporting kid-friendly characters such as Spiderman and Scooby Doo -- forms in drinks containing vitamin C and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. An independent lab found that children's drinks contain levels of benzene above the federal limit for the chemical in drinking water. While the FDA found similar results in its own tests, the agency maintains the levels are still low when compared to other methods of exposure.

Zone Brands and TalkingRain maintain that their products are safe, but agreed to change their ingredients, refund money for or replace any drinks purchased before the ingredient switch, and pay out $35,000 each. Most of that money will go to legal costs, according to Boston lawyer Andrew Rainer, representative of the parents.

Rainer said that the court's decisions should prod other companies to change potentially dangerous ingredients as well.

"I think if they understand that consumers, and perhaps courts, expect them to eliminate this problem, they will," Rainer said.

Other companies are currently facing similar lawsuits in Kansas, Massachusetts, Florida, California and New Jersey.

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