|Aspartame||Sweetener||Breaks down easily in heat and during storage to its neurotoxic components phenylalanine, aspartic
acid and methyl alcohol. According to the FDA aspartame is associated with headaches, dizziness,
loss of balance, mood swings, nausea, memory loss, muscle weakness, blurred vision, fatigue,
weakness, skin rashes, joint and musculoskeletal pain. (For a full report on aspartame toxicity see the
Ecologist September 2005). The most recent evidence shows that aspartame ingested at levels that
are currently found in daily soft drink consumption raises the risk of otherwise rare brain tumours
known as lymphomas.
|Acesulfame K||Sweetener||Causes cancer in animals. Acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, has been shown to affect the
thyroid gland in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Although it is commonly blended with aspartame to cover its bitter taste, there are no studies to show if the combination is safe or whether it produces other toxic by-products.
|Phosphoric acid||Acidifier||Can contribute to erosion of tooth enamel; leaches calcium from bones. Children with high intake of phosphoric acid suffer from brittle bones and a higher risk of fractures that follow them throughout life. Children consuming at least six glasses (1.5 litres) of phosphoric acid-containing soft drinks daily have more than five times the risk of developing low blood levels of calcium, compared to children who donâ€™t drink sodas.|
|On its own relatively harmless, though it can be harsh on tooth enamel. When mixed with potassium
or sodium benzoate (see below) during storage, and especially at raised temperatures, it can aid the
formation of carcinogenic benzene.
|Caffeine||Flavouring||A stimulant, psychoactive compound that can provoke mood changes, lethargy and headache.
Caffeine is addictive and ingestion of high levels can cause miscarriage as well as contribute to peptic ulcers and heart ailments. At the levels added to soft drinks caffeine adds virtually no flavour but does, if consumed regularly, trigger caffeine addiction. Children consuming caffeine have higher incidences of illness, headaches, sleep problems and iron depletion. A 330ml bottle of cola contains
about half the caffeine of a cup of coffee.
|Sodium Benzoate (E211)||Preservatives||People who suffer from asthma, rhinitis or urticaria may find their symptoms get worse following the consumption of benzoates. In acidic solutions (such as sodas), benzoates can break down into benzene, a known carcinogen. Surveys have shown that levels in soft drinks can be up to 40 times
higher than recognised â€˜safeâ€™ doses.
|Colouring||Made by heating sugar, ammonia and sulphite-containing compounds, the sugar can sometimes come from GM maize. Ammonia is toxic by all routes of exposure, and caramels made by an
ammonia process may damage genes, slow down growth, cause enlargement of the intestines and kidneys and may destroy vitamin B. This colouring has never been fully evaluated for its potential carcinogenicity or reproductive toxicity.