Monday, June 1, 1998 Published at 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK
Health: Latest News
Leading soft drinks withdrawn
Only some supplies are thought to present increased risk
Soft-drink companies are pulling particular batches of drinks off the shelves after trace levels of benzene were found in carbon dioxide supplies used to make the drinks.
'Safer than walking to the shop'
The carbon dioxide originated in the Terra Nitrogen factory in Severnside, near Bristol, which distributes the gas to carbonated drinks manufacturers.
Breathing city air would be more dangerous, she said. "You get more benzene by walking to the shop than by drinking the can of whatever it is,'' she added.
Suspect batches removed
Coca-Cola Schweppes said it had identified some canned drinks containing traces of benzene, but was only withdrawing specified batches from sale.
These include some cans of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, caffeine free Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Lilt, Diet Lilt, Lilt Mango Mandarin, Sprite, Sprite Lite, Fanta, Dr Pepper, Schweppes Shandy and Schweppes Slimline Shandy.
It has also recalled stocks of Malvern water.
Britvic Soft Drinks said it was withdrawing 2.25m cans that may have been affected, including regular and diet Orange Tango, regular Lemon Tango, Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, regular 7Up and 7Up Light.
It also said that only certain batches of the drinks might have been affected, and that only those ones were being recalled.
Several supermarkets have also removed Brecon Carreg mineral water from sale.
Other brands of water and soft drinks such as Lucozade and carbonated Ribena - both made by SmithKline Beecham - are being tested. They may also have to be withdrawn if the results prove positive.
'No threat to the public'
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food says the levels would only represent a negligible health risk.
"We don't believe it's a dangerous level. All the information we have suggests it's a quality issue, and there's very little risk associated with the levels found so far," he said.
The last major benzene alert was in 1990 when Perrier withdrew 160 million bottles of its water after experts in America found traces of the chemical at up to 22 parts per billion in 13 bottles.