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Benzoic acid is used as a pH adjustor and preservative. It prevents the growth of microbes in our
products to keep them safe for our consumers. Benzoic acid functions by changing the internal pH of
microorganisms to an acidic state that is incompatible with their growth and survival.
As mentioned above, benzoic acid is readily available in a synthetic form. At Tom's of Maine we use
natural benzoic acid as it is the best fit with our stewardship model. Other commonly used synthetic
preservatives include sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, imidazolidinyl urea, and DMDM hydantoin, among
others. Some of these synthetic materials are considered safe, while others can have real problems.
Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM hydantoin are "formaldehyde donors", which act by releasing microbiocidal levels
of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde poses health risks and is considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Food and Drug Administration includes benzoic acid on its list of direct food substances affirmed
as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). With high use levels some people may experience irritation reactions,
but at Tom’s of Maine we are mindful of this and formulate our products appropriately.
of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with pure and natural ingredients, some individuals
may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if
you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual
Benzoic acid is a compound found naturally in many foods such as apples, apricots, snap beans, and
cranberries. It is readily available in synthetic forms, but Tom’s of Maine has diligently selected one
sourced from nature.
We've set high standards in defining "natural", "sustainable", and "responsible". Stewardship Model
A second opinion is always a good idea.
Visit the American Botanical Council for the latest research on our herbal ingredients. Read the expert research