Brominated vegetable oil is a poorly tested and possibly dangerous food additive, first patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. BVO is banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, but still allowed in the food supply of the United States. PepsiCo, makers of Gatorade and other soft drinks like Mountain Dew, announced that they will remove the controversial additive from Gatorade formulations but it is unclear whether the additive will be removed from other varieties of soft drinks.
Jeff Dahncke, a spokesman for PepsiCo, noted that brominated vegetable oil had been deemed safe for consumption by federal regulators. “As standard practice, we constantly evaluate our formulas and ingredients to ensure they comply with federal regulations and meet the high quality standards our consumers and athletes expect — from functionality to great taste,” The New York Times reports he said in an e-mail. Despite mounting evidence that the additive may pose serious health risks the Food and Drug Administration has let BVO linger in the food supply on an “interim” basis for 42 years. It has long been used in Fanta Orange, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, and other beverages to keep flavor oils in suspension and provide a cloudy appearance.
In a statement released earlier today, Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, praised PepsiCo for removing Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from formulations of Gatorade. “I applaud PepsiCo for doing the responsible thing and voluntarily getting it out of Gatorade without waiting for government officials to require it to do so. That said, Gatorade without BVO is nutritionally no better than with it. A typical 20-ounce bottle has 130 calories, all from its 34 grams of refined sugars, which promote obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.”
Michael Jacobson, was also quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying: "The FDA has been extremely lenient in evaluating food additives and it's almost impossible to get the FDA to ban an additive once they have approved it. It's just not as public health oriented as it should be. I just don't think they're doing enough to protect the public's health with regard to food additives."