Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, yet BVO has been added to 10 percent of sodas in North America for decades. Now BVO will no longer be included in Gatorade sports drinks.
Molly Carter, a spokeswoman for Gatorade owner PepsiCo Inc., said the company has been considering the move for more than a year, working on a way to take out the ingredient without affecting the flavor of the drink.
In other words, PepsiCo’s main concern is with maintaining the flavor of the drink, not any health risks to consumers associated with the flame retardant in their drink.
Carter told the Lost Angeles Times that a petition on Change.org to drop the chemical – which has more than 200,000 supporters – did not inspire the decision, though she acknowledged that consumer feedback was the main impetus.
According to an article in Scientific American, scientists suggest BVO could be building up in human tissues and studies on mice have shown reproductive and behavioral problems linked to large doses of the chemical.
Carter says the reformulated Gatorade flavors will start rolling out in the next few months. “There’s no hard date for the launch because we’re not recalling Gatorade,” she said. “We don’t think our products are unsafe. We don’t think there are health or safety risks.”
But according to research on Brominated vegetable oil there are plenty of health and safety risks.
Condensed from Environmental Health News:
* Data in rats show that BVO could be toxic. A 1971 study by Canadian researchers found that rats fed a diet containing 0.5 percent brominated oils grew heavy hearts and developed lesions in their heart muscle.
In a later study, in 1983, rats fed the same oils had behavioral problems, and those fed 1 percent BVO had trouble conceiving. At 2 percent, they were unable to reproduce.
* In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss.
* In a 2003 case reported in Ohio, a 63-year-old man developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and months later recovered.
Based on data from the early studies, the FDA removed brominated vegetable oil from its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list for flavor additives in 1970, but BVO was reinstated after studies from an industry group from 1971 to 1974 supposedly demonstrated a level of safety.
In 1977, the FDA approved the interim use of BVO in fruit-flavored beverages.
Drinks with BVO Listed in Their Ingredients
Some drinks with BVO listed in their ingredients are:
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange
Powerade Strawberry Lemonade
Fresca Original Citrus
In Mountain Dew, brominated vegetable oil is listed next-to-last, between disodium EDTA and Yellow 5.