Root beer is a sweet North American soft drink traditionally made using the bark of the sassafras tree Sassafras albidum or the vine of Smilax ornata (sarsaparilla) as the primary flavor. Root beer may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, most often non-alcoholic. It is naturally free of caffeine but can have caffeine added, and be carbonated or non-carbonated. It usually has a thick and foamy head when poured. Modern, commercially produced root beer is generally sweet, foamy, carbonated, non-alcoholic, and flavored using artificial sassafras flavoring. Sassafras root is still used to flavor traditional root beer, but since sassafras was banned by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration due to the carcinogenicity of its constituent safrole, most commercial recipes do not contain sassafras. Some commercial root beers do use a safrole-free sassafras extract. Major producers include A&W Root Beer, Barq's, Dad's Root Beer, Hires Root Beer, and Mug Root Beer.
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