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What America Drinks1, a new comprehensive analysis of U.S. beverage consumption, suggests that making healthier beverage choices could play a key role in the battle against Americans' widening waistlines. Below are key findings from the report.


Beverage choice may be compromising the nutrition and health of Americans. On average, beverages supplied nearly a quarter (22%) of calories to the diet, with nutrient-poor, sweetened beverages -- such as soft drinks, fruit-flavored drinks and presweetened teas -- as the largest contributor.


Choice of beverage appears to be related to body weight and the overall quality of the diets of Americans. Teenagers and adults (ages 14-49) who consumed large amounts of sweetened beverages and little milk tended to weigh more than those who drank more milk and fewer sweetened beverages.

Women and teen girls (ages 14-49) who consumed higher amounts of milk (including flavored milk) and lower amounts of nutrient-poor, sugar-sweetened beverages tended to weigh significantly less than their peers who consumed higher amounts of sweetened beverages and low amounts of milk -- regardless of total calorie intake. This suggests that sweetened beverage consumption may be associated with an increased weight due to factors other than the increased calorie intake.


Teenagers and adults (ages 14-49) drank two to three times the amount of sweetened beverages as they did milk. On average, teen boys consumed 32 ounces of sweetened beverages a day (387 calories - 13% of total daily calories); teen girls drank 22 ounces, which contributed an average of 12% of total daily calories or 267 calories a day to their diets (which extrapolating, would translate to about 8,000 calories over the course of a month).


On average, teen boys drank only 12 ounces of milk a day and teen girls averaged less than one serving (7 ounces). Teen boys consumed about one out of every 10 calories in the form of a soft drink.

Adult women (ages 19-49) consumed the least amount of milk - an average of 6 ounces a day. They drank three times as many sweetened beverages, 18 ounces a day or 10% of daily calories.

Drinking milk may help improve the overall quality of the diet. Milk was the primary beverage source of calcium, vitamin A, protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc in the diets of Americans ages 4 and older.


Children, teenagers and adults who consumed lower amounts of milk and higher amounts of sweetened beverages had diets that were significantly lower in several essential nutrients, particularly calcium. Only those with high milk intakes and low intakes of sweetened beverages met their calcium recommendations.




1 What America Drinks is based on a comprehensive study conducted by ENVIRON International Corporation. The report analyzed data from more than 10,000 Americans ages 4 and older who participated in the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000 and 2001-2002 and provided reasonable dietary reports of food/beverage intakes

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And to think of it, I am a heavy soft drink drinker. This has been most educational.





Questions and Answers on the Occurrence of

Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages


What is benzene?


Benzene is a chemical that is released into the air from emissions from automobiles and burning coal and oil. It is also used in the manufacture of a wide range of industrial products, including chemicals, dyes, detergents, and some plastics.


Why is benzene a concern?


Benzene is a carcinogen that can cause cancer in humans. It has caused cancer in workers exposed to high levels from workplace air. Based on results from a Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) survey of almost 200 samples of soft drinks and other beverages tested for benzene conducted from 2005 through May 2007, a small number of products sampled contained more than 5 parts per billion (ppb) of benzene. The manufacturers have reformulated products, if still manufactured, which were identified in the survey as containing greater than 5 ppb benzene. CFSAN tested samples of these reformulated products and found that benzene levels were less than 1.5 ppb. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a maximum allowable level (MCL) for benzene in drinking water of 5 ppb. FDA has adopted EPA’s MCL for drinking water as an allowable level for bottled water.


Do the levels of benzene in beverages pose a risk to public health?


The results of CFSAN's survey indicate that the levels of benzene found in beverages to date do not pose a safety concern for consumers. Almost all samples analyzed in our survey contained either no benzene or levels below 5 ppb. Furthermore, benzene levels in hundreds of samples tested by national and international government agencies and the beverage industry are consistent with those found in our survey.


How does benzene get into beverages?


Benzene can form at very low levels (ppb level) in some beverages that contain both benzoate salts and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or erythorbic acid (a closely related substance (isomer) also known as d-ascorbic acid). Exposure to heat and light can stimulate the formation of benzene in some beverages that contain benzoate salts and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Sodium or potassium benzoate may be added to beverages to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Benzoate salts also are naturally present in some fruits and their juices, such as cranberries, for example. Vitamin C may be present naturally in beverages or added to prevent spoilage or to provide additional nutrients.


What steps are being taken to reduce or eliminate benzene in beverages?


FDA is working with the beverage industry to minimize benzene formation in products. For example, FDA has met with industry to determine the factors contributing to benzene formation. FDA has directly contacted those firms whose products were tested and found to contain more than 5 ppb benzene in our survey. Manufacturers have reformulated products to ensure benzene levels are minimized or eliminated. The International Council of Beverages Associations and the American Beverage Association have developed guidance for all beverage manufacturers on ways to minimize benzene formation. FDA will continue its testing program for benzene in soft drinks and other beverages to monitor levels and will inform the public and manufacturers as new data become available.


How was the problem identified?


FDA first became aware that benzene was present in some soft drinks in 1990. At that time, the soft drink industry informed the agency that benzene could form at low levels in some beverages that contained both benzoate salts and ascorbic acid. FDA and the beverage industry initiated research at that time to identify factors contributing to benzene formation. This research found that elevated temperature and light can stimulate benzene formation in the presence of benzoate salts and ascorbic acid. As a result of these findings, many manufacturers reformulated their products to reduce or eliminate benzene formation.


In November 2005, FDA received reports that benzene had been detected at low levels in some soft drinks containing benzoate salts and ascorbic acid. CFSAN immediately initiated a survey of benzene levels in soft drinks and other beverages. The vast majority of the beverages sampled to date (including those containing both benzoate salts and ascorbic acid) contained either no detectable benzene or levels well below the 5 ppb EPA MCL for benzene in drinking water.


How many and what products were found to have excessive levels of benzene?


To date, FDA has tested almost 200 soft drink and other beverages in the CFSAN survey. Benzene above 5 ppb was found in a total of ten products. Benzene above 5 ppb was found in nine of the beverage products that contain both added benzoate salts and ascorbic acid. FDA also found benzene above 5 ppb in one cranberry juice beverage with added ascorbic acid but no added benzoates (cranberries contain natural benzoates). The manufacturers have reformulated products, if still manufactured, which were identified in the survey as containing greater than 5 ppb benzene. CFSAN tested samples of these reformulated products and found that benzene levels were less than 1.5 ppb. See also Data on Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages, including product names and benzene levels.


What about results for benzene in beverages reported in FDA's Total Diet Study (TDS)?


FDA's TDS is an ongoing FDA program that determines levels of various contaminants and nutrients in a broad variety of foods. As was previously reported by the press, FDA's TDS results from 1995 to 2001 included benzene levels in some beverages that were elevated compared with results from CFSAN's survey and other recent domestic and international studies. In 2006, the FDA conducted an evaluation1 of the reliability of the TDS benzene results. This evaluation concluded that the TDS procedure used to analyze benzene levels can generate benzene in beverages containing benzoate preservatives. There was also evidence of a source of benzene contamination in the TDS laboratory. Although the FDA evaluation focused on benzene in beverages, these findings also raise questions about the reliability of the method for benzene in solid foods. Because the TDS benzene results appeared to be unreliable, FDA scientists recommend that the benzene data be viewed with great caution while FDA considers removing TDS benzene data from the TDS website. There is no evidence of problems with other TDS data.





1Summary of an Investigation of the Reliability of Benzene Results from the Total Diet Study, FDA, December 8, 2006. Available from Judith Kidwell, CFSAN/Office of Food Additive Safety, E-mail: Judith Kidwell.

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Also for further information, this is still the best link out there. Ya know, cause you can still call, and toll free to boot. AND I JUST USED MY CAN OF COCACOLA AS MY ASH TRAY "BLEEP".





Soft Drinks Linked To Heart Disease Via Metabolic Syndrome









Food Safety Authority Shoots the Messenger

Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 10:33 am

Press Release: Soil and Health Association


Food Safety Authority Continues to Shoot the Messenger


The Soil & Health Association is very concerned that New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) staff are hell-bent on ignoring scientific research that clearly shows the links between aspartame and cancer, especially in children when the mother consumes aspartame during pregnancy. Aspartame converts to formaldehyde when ingested.


Not only that but Food Safety calling the Soil & Health spokesperson a scaremonger is again shooting the messenger instead of attending to the health concerns of the New Zealand community.


"Evidence from award-winning scientific researchers and the increasing local evidence is being studiously ignored by the agency. Why?" asks Soil & Health spokesperson, Steffan Browning.


"The agency has nothing original in its material and is trotting out the same old industry pap. Why? Who are they beholden to? Is it commercial and trade imperatives, philosophical, attitudinal and institutional blindness and deafness? What ever it is, it needs to change very quickly. The information that substantiates the rising list of aspartame victims concerns exists, but the precautionary approach is not even considered unless it is for trade protection."


"Although the NZFSA toxicologist is touted as an expert, with over 30 years experience, including serving on international expert consultations, he is ignoring mounting research from the international scientific community, such as the following:


"These are indeed extremely high levels for adducts of formaldehyde, a substance responsible for chronic deleterious effects that has also been considered carcinogenic.....

"It is concluded that aspartame consumption may constitute a hazard because of its contribution to the formation of formaldehyde adducts." (Trocho 1998)



"It was a very interesting paper, that demonstrates that formaldehyde formation from aspartame ingestion is very common and does indeed accumulate within the cell, reacting with cellular proteins (mostly enzymes) and DNA (both mitochondrial and nuclear). The fact that it accumulates with each dose, indicates grave consequences among those who consume diet drinks and foodstuffs on a daily basis." (Blaylock 1998)



Methanol from aspartame is released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounters the enzyme chymotrypsin (Stegink 1984, page 143). A relatively small amount of aspartame (e.g., one can of soda ingested by a child) can significantly increase plasma methanol levels (Davoli 1986a).




Clinically, chronic, low-level exposure to methanol has been seen to cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, ear buzzing, GI disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness & shooting pains, behavioral disturbances, neuritis, misty vision, vision tunneling, blurring of vision, conjunctivitis, insomnia, vision loss, depression, heart problems (including disease of the heart muscle), and pancreatic inflammation (Kavet 1990, Monte 1984, Posner 1975).




The methanol from aspartame is converted to formaldehyde and then formic acid (DHHS 1993, Liesivuori 1991), although some of the formaldehyde appears to accumulate in the body as discussed above. Chronic formaldehyde exposure at very low doses has been shown to cause immune system and nervous system changes and damage as well as headaches, general poor health, irreversible genetic damage, and a number of other serious health problems (Fujimaki 1992, He 1998, John 1994, Liu 1993, Main 1983, Molhave 1986, National Research Council 1981, Shaham 1996, Srivastava 1992, Vojdani 1992, Wantke 1996). One experiment (Wantke 1996) showed that chronic exposure to formaldehyde caused systemic health problems (i.e., poor health) in children at an air concentration of only 0.043 - 0.070 parts per million!


"Methanol is a metabolic poison which, in the absence of ethanol (such as in fruits) is unstable and breaks down into formaldehyde, a poison and carcinogen, and formic acid, also a poison and carcinogen," said Browning.


"The NZFSA "expert" toxicologist quotes formaldehyde in fruit digestion as some sort of equivalent, yet in fruit the methanol does not break down at the same rate into formaldehyde, when bound by natural pectin and is balanced by the proportionately much greater ethanol."


"Fruit has protective factors which help prevent chronic poisoning from methanol metabolites such as formaldehyde. A dose of aspartame is significantly different than that of a mouthful of fruit which has a range of enzymes and compounds in balance."


"Some NZFSA staff are also choosing to ignore the very real experiences of New Zealanders who thanks to Abby Cormack, Betty Martini, Safe Food Campaign and Soil & Health have quit aspartame and have recovered from serious life altering health effects," said Browning.


"For the NZFSA toxicologist to suggest that Soil & Health encouraging people away from a carcinogenic neurotoxic synthetic sweetener is in any way inappropriate because of obesity or diabetes, shows a lack of objectivity. Yes we are taken seriously and the Obesity Action Coalition Executive Director has changed her televised pro-aspartame view since meeting anti-aspartame campaigners Abby Cormack and Betty Martini, and hearing of the corruption and spin, and having the independent research produced in a public forum."


"Soil & Health will produce research papers substantiating any of its aspartame claims and the supportive information has all been available to NZFSA. It is a matter of will to acknowledge that people in the community are being harmed by aspartame and then actually do something about it."


"Soil & Health is committed along with Safe Food Campaign, ADHD Society, Mission Possible, many scientists and doctors, consumers and producers to have the toxic aspartame and its stablemates out of the food chain."


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