Irish soft drinks manufacturers have responded to a new health scare by having their products tested by Irish and EU food safety authorities.

The Beverage Council of Ireland (BCI) said yesterday (4 June), that all ingredients used have undergone rigorous testing by the relevant food safety authorities and have met with the authorities' approval.

The scare, stemming from recent research by a British scientist, began when it was suggested that a preservative found in many soft drinks could switch off vital parts of DNA and lead to cirrhosis of the liver and diseases such as Parkinson's.

The warning was issued after observing the impact of sodium benzoate, also known as E211, on living yeast cells in the laboratory. The preservative, which is used to prevent mould in drinks such as Sprite and Fanta, was found to have damaged part of the yeast's DNA.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said that the substance had been tested and was considered safe.