Benzoic acid is commonly used as a preservative in food processing and is found naturally in many berries, cherry bark, prunes, anise, cloves, cinnamon, and tea.
Industrially, benzoic acid is used as a flavoring agent in chocolate, orange, lemon, nut, and other flavors in candies, beverages, baked goods, ice cream, and chewing gums. It is also used as a preservative it is used in a wide variety of processed foods, including margarine, soft drinks, juices, pickles, condiments, jellies, and jams.
Benzoic acid can cause intestinal upset, especially with weakened liver function. It can also be slightly irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, and cause allergic reactions, though these are rare.