Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Attn: Dr. R. Ramakrishna.

Deputy Drug Controller (India),

CDSCO West Zone,

Directorate General of Health Services

Ministry Health & Family welfare (Govt. of India.)

4th floor, FDA Bhavan, GMSD compound, Bellasis Road,

Mumbai Central, Mumbai 400 008

Fax: 23002271

Subject: Imports of Sodium Benzoate from China MUST be banned with immediate effect in the interest of the Indians.

Respected Sir,

We would like to draw your attention on the above subject.


Sodium benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid. In its refined form, sodium benzoate is a white, odorless compound that has a sweetish, astringent taste. It is soluble in water. Sodium benzoate has antimicrobial characteristics it is typically used as a preservative in food products, making its use most prevalent in foods such as preserves, salad dressings, carbonated drinks, jams, fruit juices, pickles, and sauces etc.

Sodium benzoate is used in many soft drinks and can be identified on the label of the bottle or can as 'sodium benzoate' or E211.

Sodium Benzoate which is imported is being used as Food Additive only, No other major application is there.

As per Indian Laws:

As per the law, Enclosed Notification, Any Food Additive used “Must be ISI Marked”. Non ISI/BIS marked product should be banned to import by any traders or users.

In India, there are few manufacturers of Sodium Benzoate who manufactures quality product that complies with the standards laid by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The product is ISI marked and passed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA approved).

Why the imports of Sodium Benzoate from China must be BANNED” with immediate effect?

Ø It is well known & established fact that almost all the Sodium Benzoate is being used in Food Processing Industry. Particularly in unorganized sector like Mahila Gruha Udyog or smaller units.

Ø Health of Indians is at stake and getting affected due to consumption and use of inferior quality Chinese sodium benzoate.

Ø The regulations of food norms are being violated presently by the import of spurious sodium benzoate.

Ø Indian authorities are sleeping and allowing the deteriorated quality Sodium Benzoate, which is being used in food openly and Indian consumer is taken for granted.

Ø There are importers, mainly traders, who are importing cheaper, low quality Sodium Benzoate from China, which ‘don’t’ meet the required quality norms.

Ø BIS Marked products only.

The Government has made Import of 131 products subject to compliance of the mandatory Indian quality standards as applicable to domestic goods.

For compliance of this requirement all manufacturers/exporters of these products to India shall be required to register themselves with Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The list of 131 products includes various food preservatives and additives, milk powder, infant milk food, certain kinds of cement, household and similar electrical appliances, gas cylinders and multi-purpose dry batteries.

As per Indian law, it is necessary that Sodium Benzoate used in food preservation shall be of food grade as per Indian Standard, IS:4447-1994, governed by Bureau of Indian Standard. Chinese Sodium Benzoate fails to comply with the mandatory Indian Quality Standards as levied by Bureau of Indian Standards. The material application is more in food industry and its use directly affects the health of the mass consuming it.

However, not many companies in India are aware of the mandatory usage of ISI marked Sodium Benzoate. The awareness among them is required to be increased for social and health benefit.

Ø Major product problems with Sodium Benzoate imported from China


Sodium Benzoate is Sodium salt of Benzoic Acid and salts have no odor. However, china make Sodium Benzoate has unbearable odor in it which does not go unnoticed.

Chlorine Content

The content of chlorine is very high in the Chinese Sodium Benzoate. The presence of chlorine beyond the given standards is dangerous for human being consumption. The odor, and change in appearance on reacting with other elements is mainly due to presence of chlorine.


Sodium Benzoate is easily soluble in water. Chinese make has difficulty in solubility when dissolved in water. Sodium Benzoate when has acid present in it, it has difficulty in dissolving.

Change in appearance

Sodium Benzoate when mixed with other products does not affect the appearance of the material. However, Chinese sodium benzoate when mixed, changes the physical appearance of the product.

A high level inquiry is required to be initiated against the importers of Chinese Sodium Benzoate. No more mercy should be given for the low quality product importers who import for their own benefit and earning profits without considering the effect that it has on people’s health.

Prevention of Food Adulteration Act has recommended Sodium Benzoate as preservative. It is mandatory that the preservative used shall be of food grade and shall bear ISI mark. All Sodium Benzoate must be allowed to import, only if they have ISI marking on food grade material.

We request you to take Immediate action and protect the health of the Indian People.

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