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Soft drink firms OK benzene settlement

WASHINGTON -- Two soft drink companies have stopped using ingredients that can form cancer-causing benzene, according to a proposed lawsuit settlement.

Parents sued Atlanta-based In Zone Brands Inc., maker of BellyWashers, and Preston, Wash.-based TalkingRain Beverage Co., over drinks containing benzene, which is linked to leukemia.

In documents filed in District of Columbia Superior Court, the companies and the parents agreed to settle the dispute. A hearing was scheduled for today.

BellyWashers are juice drinks that come in reusable bottles featuring Spiderman, Hello Kitty, Scooby Doo and other well-known characters.

The drink makers denied that their products caused any harm. But they agreed in April and May to change their ingredients, after the suit was filed.

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