A girl said Gatorade contains flame retardant in an online petition recently and declared victory after PepsiCo announced steps to remove it. Sarah Kavanagh's petition on Change.org attracted over 250,000 signatures after the teen learned brominated vegetable oil or BVO was an ingredient in Gatorade. Shortly thereafter, the company vowed to replace the chemical soon.
Citing a Jan. 25 report from Reuters, one Mississippi girl's actions may have forced the hand of a behemoth in an industry driven by multiple well-known brands and profit.
It all began when the Hattiesburg teen read online that Gatorade contains flame retardant. Her research suggested that the company has been using the controversial chemical in its Orange, Lemonade and smaller brand flavors for quite some time.
The student-turned-activist, overnight, began an online petition for awareness about Gatorade containing the fire resistant agent in hopes that PepsiCo could find a safer replacement.
Kavanagh admitted that she never thought the Gatorade petition would go anywhere, but she felt the need to speak out and express herself. However, her efforts sparked somewhat of a movement.
"When I went to Change.org to start my petition, I thought it might get a lot of support because no one wants to gulp down flame retardant, especially from a drink they associate with being healthy. But with Gatorade being as big as they are, sometimes it was hard to know if we'd ever win," Sarah's statement read on the website.
According to the NY Times, BVO has the potential to negatively affect human health, specifically with regards to the nervous system and thyroid gland. It's banned in the European Union and Japan.
Get this: Sarah, aka Gatorade Girl, received the news she hoped for and declared her petition on Change.Org a victory.
"I was in algebra class and one of my friends kicked me and said, 'Have you seen this on Twitter?' I asked the teacher if I could slip out to the bathroom, and I called my mom and said, 'Mom, we won,'" Kavanaugh said in a telephone interview.
Nonetheless, while PepsiCo admits Gatorade contains a flame retardant, it said the girl's petition was not the driving force behind its decision to remove the ingredient.
In a statement, it said the company has been considering a replacement for a while based on consumer input.
Additionally, it said after selling through existing supplies, Gatorade's fire resistant BVO will be replaced by sucrose acetate isobutyrate in the coming months.
Great; another food additive that's hard to spell, let alone pronounce, right?
Of note; the F.D.A. reportedly has not reviewed BVO since the '70s, even at a time more product testing was called to be done. The government agency allegedly cited budgetary restraints.
While Gatorade contains fire retardant, the chemical will not be removed from regular Mountain Dew and Diet products. Imagine that? Time for another petition?