Root beer soda in a glass.
Is It Dangerous To Use Sassafras In Homemade
Root Beer?
By C.A. Pinkham
There are few soft drinks more iconic than root beer, and for a long time, its key flavoring ingredient was sassafras. Also known as cinnamon wood, sassafras is a product that has been around for a while, but in the latter half of the 20th century, sassafras had a rough patch in America.
In 1976, the FDA banned sassafras, based on 1960s studies that declared one of its key ingredients, safrole (also known as sassafras oil), carcinogenic. The U.S. ban still stands today, despite the fact that safrole also occurs naturally in cinnamon, black pepper, and nutmeg.
The rats in those 1960s studies were given the equivalent of 32 bottles of root beer per day, which could obviously cause serious health concerns for anyone. Additionally, the effects of safrole in rats have never been recreated in humans, so it seems like there's pretty strong evidence it's not nearly as bad as has been believed.