Benzoates are preservatives occurring naturally in some fruits and as synthetic preservatives added to many foods. Both forms can cause a range of illnesses in sensitized people, including asthma, allergic rhinitis/recurrent sinusitis, urticaria (itchy rashes) and eczema/dermatitis, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome and behavioral disturbances e.g. hyperactivity in children.
When used in combination with sulphite preservatives no. 220-228 they compound the severity of asthma reactions and the combination with tartrazine (food colouring No 102 can worsen adverse reactions in children with hyperactivity.
Synthetic preservatives added to foods: Benzoic acid and its salts (food additives 210-219-mailon No 211) are used by the food technology industry as tasteless and odorless preservatives in a wide range of products to stop bacteria, fungi and yeast from growing in processed foods. It is most frequently used in fruit juices, pickles, preserves and carbonated drinks. It is commonly found in foods such as many cordials and fruit juice drinks, most carbonated/soft drinks, margarine, gravy, sauces, jam, pie fillings, prepared salads and salad dressings, mayonnaise, pickles, chutney, sauces (e.g. some tomato, soya and Worcestershire) cider, coconut milk, milk shake syrups, tea.
Natural preservatives benzoates also occur naturally in berries, prunes, plums, bananas, peas, cinnamon, cloves, squashes, fruit yogurts,
Preservatives in medications. They are used extensively in medication, syrups, mouth washes, toothpaste and cosmetics.
You may find info relating to benzoates in a book called. Eating Safely In A Toxic World - What Really Is In The Food We Eat. By Sue Kedgley