BVO (Brominated vegetable oil) was originally formulated for use as a flame retardant in plastics, and is banned for use in beverages in Europe and Japan. Studies suggest it causes heart damage.
Monica Eng, Chicago Tribune, Jan 25, 2013
Responding to consumer concerns, PepsiCo today announced that it will remove brominated vegetable oil, an emulsifier, from citrus-flavored Gatorade.
Mississippi teenager Sarah Kavanagh had launched an online petition in November that drew recent media attention, including a story in the Chicago Tribune on Monday, but the company said the reformulation project was sparked by earlier customer complaints.
“While our products are safe, we are making this change because we know that some consumers have a negative perception of BVO in Gatorade, despite being permitted for use in North American and Latin American countries,” Gatorade spokeswoman Molly Carter said in a statement. “As part of this process, we began working on an alternative ingredient to BVO for the few Gatorade flavors that contain BVO more than a year ago.”
Some countries, including those in the European Union and Japan, do not allow the use of brominated vegetable oil in food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s last review of the chemical, conducted in the 1970s, called for more toxicological testing that was never performed.
In an interview, Carter said the company needed a year to make sure the new formulation “would not affect taste or functionality. So we did a lot of sensory testing to make sure we had the right batch and we feel strongly we do.”
Coca-Cola, which uses the chemical in Orange Fanta and Powerade, said in a statement that the ingredient improves the stability of some products by preventing ingredients from separating.
“While we are confident in the safety of our beverages, we continuously look for ways to improve our products and take consumers’ concerns into account,” the statement said.
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