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Publix Supermarkets announced this week that the Lakeland-based grocery chain had settled a consumer lawsuit over problems relating to the content of the chemical benzene in the company’s private label soda pop. Consumer groups had brought the suit, alleging that ingredients in Publix diet lemon-lime soda compound to form trace amounts of benzene once the beverage has heated during shipping. Benzene is a highly toxic chemical solvent and is generally not considered safe for human consumption.

While the FDA has not issued guidelines on the acceptable benzene content of soda pop, Publix directed their private label supplier to reformulate the store’s diet lemon-lime soda after conducting in-house testing of the affected product. The reformulated Publix diet lemon-lime has ‘use by’ labeling dated July 3, 2008. Although exact terms of the settlement remained undisclosed, Publix indicated that customers would receive a refund or replacement soda for any outstanding product with a ‘use-by’ date prior to July 3, 2008.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Defective and Dangerous Products.

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