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A worrying new study has found that fruit juices and squashes enjoyed by millions could contain too much antimony - a potentially lethal substance when consumed in large doses.
Scientists have found high levels of the chemical linked to cancer in a number of popular brands. In some cases, the levels of antimony were 10 times higher that what is considered ‘safe' under EU guidelines.
It is believed the substance is leaking into fruit juice from the plastic bottles, researchers believe. Specific brands have not been named, but it is believed that the chemicals were detected in 16 of the most popular cordials and fruit drinks enjoyed by children.
The team who carried out the study are concerned by their findings, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and have called for an immediate investigation.
Claus Hansen, a PhD student at the department of pharmacology, who took part in the study, suspected that the citric acid found in the juices could speed up the leaching process.
'The antimony concentrations in the products tested exceed the limit of drinking water but no legislation exists for foodstuffs, so no legislation has been broken.
'However, we cannot be sure that the antimony levels are harmless. It would be a good idea to have some more research to get a better impression of what the antimony limit should be in fruit juices.'
In 2005, Volvic mineral water was at the heart of a health scare after a potentially harmful substance was found in bottles. An investigation found that the water contained naphthalene - a chemical that can cause liver damage if drunk in high quantities.
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