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International Journal of Food Science
Volume 2015, Article ID 545640, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/545640
Review Article

Benzene as a Chemical Hazard in Processed Foods

1Laboratório de Sensores Biológicos, Escola de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Horácio Macedo 2030, CT, Bloco E, Sala E-122, Ilha do Fundão, 21941-598 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
2Laboratório de Bioquímica Nutricional e de Alimentos, Instituto de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Athos da Silveira Ramos 149, CT, Bloco A, Sala 528A, Ilha Fundão, 21941-909 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
3Laboratório de Microbiologia de Alimentos, Escola de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Avenida Horácio Macedo 2030, CT, Bloco E, Sala E-104, Ilha do Fundão, 21941-598 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 18 August 2014; Revised 13 January 2015; Accepted 21 January 2015

Academic Editor: Jessica L. Jones

Copyright © 2015 Vânia Paula Salviano dos Santos et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This paper presents a literature review on benzene in foods, including toxicological aspects, occurrence, formation mechanisms, and mitigation measures and analyzes data reporting benzene levels in foods. Benzene is recognized by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as carcinogenic to humans, and its presence in foods has been attributed to various potential sources: packaging, storage environment, contaminated drinking water, cooking processes, irradiation processes, and degradation of food preservatives such as benzoates. Since there are no specific limits for benzene levels in beverages and food in general studies have adopted references for drinking water in a range from 1–10 ppb. The presence of benzene has been reported in various food/beverage substances with soft drinks often reported in the literature. Although the analyses reported low levels of benzene in most of the samples studied, some exceeded permissible limits. The available data on dietary exposure to benzene is minimal from the viewpoint of public health. Often benzene levels were low as to be considered negligible and not a consumer health risk, but there is still a need of more studies for a better understanding of their effects on human health through the ingestion of contaminated food.