BVO Removal

Shanice Hrouda

While browsing BBC news, I found an article stating that the world’s largest beverage-maker, Coca-Cola, plans to remove a controversial ingredient from some of its US drink brands by the end of this year as a result of an online petition.

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is found in Coca-Cola fruit and sports drinks such as Fanta, Powerade, and Mountain Dew. Rival company Pepsi removed BVO from their ingredient lists last year. According to the Mayo Clinic, BVO is a food additive that is sometimes used to keep citrus flavoring from separating out in sodas and sports drinks. Rival Pepsi removed BVO from their sports drinks last year. BVO is used as a food additive now, but was originally patented as a flame retardant.

I found a very nice Youtube video regarding BVO additives for a more comprehensive explanation.

To be fair, the video is obviously focused on one side of the argument, and I must tell you that a majority of the BVO studies and reports thus far have stated negative side effects for humans when 2+ liters of soda containing BVO was ingested daily. While I am in no way, shape, or form saying that drinking so much soda is perfectly acceptable. I do find it interesting that an additive that was originally marketed as a flame retardant is apparently acceptable in our beverages.

BVO has been banned in India since 1990.
BVO was banned as a food additive in Japan in 2010 and has also been been banned in the European Union, though I am currently unable to find a specific date for that decision.

In the United States, BVO was designated in 1958 as generally recognized as safe but this was withdrawn by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1970, there are currently restrictions on the use of BVO as a food additive in the US, limiting the concentration to 15 ppm. The fact of the matter is that BVO is legally allowed to be present in the things that we consume as a food additive in the US.

Quite frankly, I had never heard of BVO until I read the BBC article. Other countries have banned the substance, but the United States has not, Coca-Cola is removing BVO next year of their own free will due to public outcry. BVO has been sitting on the FDA’s food additive list “permitted on an interim basis pending further study” for decades. It makes me wonder, why the time lag? What other kinds of substances or additives are permissible in the food and drink that we consume according to the FDA?

1 Comment

  1. vavrok

    The failure of our government to adequately protect its citizens from dangerous contaminants like these seems to be a reoccurring theme… how much of what we are subjected to each day could be hazardous to our health? And to what extent should consumers be responsible for making informed choices? First, of course, we would need access to that information… BVO, BPA, and caramel color are just a few of these chemicals banned in other places but somehow are still accepted in the US.

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