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Pesticides In Pop

A global survey of fruit-flavored soft drinks uncovers a cornucopia of pesticide residues in most of the brands tested

by Sarah Everts
December 8, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 49

European drinkers of fruit-flavored sodas may be getting a good dose of pesticides along with the citrus fizz. In a study of 102 fruit-based soft drinks from 15 countries around the world, researchers in Spain found a cornucopia of pesticides in 85% of the brands studied—in many cases at levels much higher than maximum European drinking water standards for pesticides (Anal. Chem. 2008, 80, 8966). Antonio Molina-Díaz of the University of Jaén, Amadeo R. Fernández-Alba of the University of Almería, and colleagues used liquid chromatography-electrospray time-of-flight mass spectrometry to detect residues of dozens of pesticides, including carbendazim, imazalil, prochloraz, and thiabendazole, which are usually applied postharvest to the skin of citrus fruits to increase shelf life. Although no pesticides were measured in the 11 samples obtained from the U.S.—likely because artificial flavors are used in the drinks, pesticide concentrations found in 60 British and Spanish brands were more than 25 times European Union standards. "Steps should be taken toward the removal of pesticides in these beverages" because many of the pesticides interfere with steroid hormone receptors, which is especially a concern for any children consuming the soft drinks, the researchers note.


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