Just when you thought there couldn’t be one more unholy chemical concoction in our food, another one emerges from obscurity. BVO – brominated vegetable oil. It’s found mostly in citrus-flavored sodas, so maybe I shouldn’t say it’s in our “food” – but some of us are ingesting it anyway. And it isn’t even a new invention – according to an article in the New York Times, it’s been in food since the 1930s, and attempts to establish safe levels in humans are inadequate, so BVO has coasted on a grandfathered or interim regulatory status for decades.
And, as we are sadly aware, the U.S. is far behind other countries in protecting its citizens. BVO has not been approved in other countries, or even outright banned: European Union, India, Japan. Could they know something we don’t? One young woman, 15-year-old Susan Kavanagh, investigated this and found that Gatorade has somehow magically found a substitute formulation to sell in those other countries—but doesn’t use it here.
Interested in being heard? Susan set up an online petition to ask Gatorade to stop adding BVO. Your signature would be added to the signatures of 200,000 other people.
Just over a year ago, Scientific American weighed in on the issue and pointed out that BVO was patented as a flame retardant and can be found in 10% of the sodas in the U.S. (including Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Gatorade Thirst-Quencher Orange, and Fresca Original Citrus). Joseph Mercola, a prominent physician and food activist (he made a major donation to the Proposition 37 campaign) has some eye-opening information. Bromine – the element that chemists bond with vegetable oil to make this concoction – is an endocrine disruptor, and can displace absorption of iodine, which our bodies need.
Soda is my own (very) guilty pleasure but I’ll sure check labels for BVO from now on.