Beverage consumers are likely to intake harmful levels of hydrogen peroxide when they drink some energy drinks, according to a study published in Food Chemistry at the Monash University, Australia.

Professor Bennett, the course director of Monash University’s Master of Food Science and Agribusiness, led the research study and identified that the food industry makes use of hydrogen peroxide for the sanitisation process. In Australia, residues of up to 5 mg / kg are said to be allowed in food or beverage products.

According to the study, hydrogen peroxide present in a beverage product is stabilised in the acidic environments of the beverage, as well as in the stomach after consumption.

A human body is said to produce hydrogen peroxide as a signalling molecule and the levels are generally in the range of less than 0.0003 mg / kg, which can be inactivated by cellular processes.

The research team identified that some of the energy drinks contain higher levels of hydrogen peroxide than naturally produced by the human body. The levels measured are said to be 15,000-fold higher than the natural levels produced in the body.

Bennett said: “The research indicates that people are drinking diluted hydrogen peroxide when they consume some Energy drinks. The long term effects may explain some cancer risk trends in the age group who consume Energy drinks.

“This reflects that toxicity is not well understood, particularly for regular consumption of ~350 ml such as in a commercial beverage. We have analysed the levels of hydrogen peroxide in a range of commercial beverages and found that some chemical combinations of ingredients in Energy drinks can drive this chemistry.

“We are hoping that our research will lead to new standards for avoiding the production of hydrogen peroxide in these types of popular beverages.”

Monash University funded the research. Going further it hopes to work with individual companies to address the issue.