PLEASANTON, Calif. — A suit filed against Safeway last year over the potential presence of benzene in its private-label Safeway Select Diet Orange soft drink was settled last week, according to a published report. Karen Sheehy of Oakland, Calif., filed the suit, claiming that the presence of two ingredients in the drink, ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, and the preservative potassium benzoate could combine to form very small quantities of benzene, a carcinogen, if exposed to heat over time. Safeway reformulated its product last year and is no longer combining those two ingredients, according to a story published in the East Bay Business Times. The retailer will replace products purchased before Nov. 1, 2006, the reformulation date. “Safeway not only acted promptly to minimize any risk of benzene in its product, but pledged to follow rigorous testing standards should it ever introduce a new or reformulated product containing that combination of ingredients,” said attorney Dennis Canty of Levin, Simes, Kaiser & Gornick, in a statement.
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