Class Action Lawsuits Target Top Beverage Makers

Class Action Lawsuits Target Top Beverage Makers

Consumers have filed class action lawsuits against leading beverage makers, alleging that certain soft drinks contain unsafe levels of benzene – a known carcinogen.

The lawsuits specifically target PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Safeway and several others whose products contain the toxic chemical. Certain soft drinks made by these companies contain benzene levels significantly greater than the allowed limit.

A recent Food and Drug Administration analysis revealed that Safeway Select Diet Orange contained 79.2 parts per billion (ppb) of benzene and Crystal Light Sunrise Orange contained 87.9 ppb. The Environmental Protection Agency limits benzene levels for safe drinking water at 5 ppb.

Benzene forms in soft drinks when ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and the preservative sodium benzoate react after elevated heat or light exposure. According to the EPA, benzene exposure can cause nervous system disorders, immune system damage, cancer, and chromosomal aberrations.

“The soft drink industry cannot be trusted,” said law professor and consumer advocate Dick Daynard. “They told the FDA 15 years ago that they would get the carcinogens out of their drinks. It’s now obvious that only a binding legal agreement will guarantee that benzene goes and stays gone.”

So far, lawsuits against soft drink manufacturers have been filed by consumers in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Kansas, and Washington D.C. 

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