It took a high school student to bring Gatorade to its knees and agree to remove a potentially dangerous ingredient from its beverages, brominated vegetable oil (BVO) which is used to keep ingredients from separating. Her original petition was closed after 200,000 signed. Now she has turned her attention to Powerade, a product made by Coca Cola who refuses to remove the additive. As of Feb. 7 she had more than 44,000 signatures with only 6,000 more needed.
Sarah Kavanaugh again is using the power of Change.org. In her letter to various company officers she said: “I heard that Gatorade recently decided to stop using brominated vegetable oil in its products. I think that was a great thing for them to do. It took 200,000 people to weigh in on Change.org last time, but I hope you avoid the controversy and remove this chemical, too.”
“A couple months ago, I found out that one of my favorite drinks, Gatorade’s Orange, contained brominated vegetable oil (BVO). According to Scientific American and other news reports, BVO is patented as a flame retardant and has been banned in Europe and Japan. So I started a Change.org petition asking Gatorade to stop using it. More than 200,000 people signed my petition on Change.org and we won! But I learned that BVO is also in other drinks, like Powerade’s red fruit punch that is actually sold in my school!
“It’s weird because Gatorade’s fruit punch doesn’t have BVO! But Powerade’s fruit punch does, and it is probably one of the most popular flavors for my friends. It is so wrong to be selling something like that to a bunch of kids anywhere! What are these companies thinking? I don’t want anyone in my family touching that stuff. Why do these companies put all this weird, crazy stuff in our food and drinks?”
Several other petitions against Powerade have now been started. Aveyca Price said she started a petition because: ”I live north of Atlanta the home of the Coca-Cola Company, so I am local and it’s crazy to know that every time I see a delivery truck at a gas station or supermarket, bottles of potentially harmful chemicals are lining the shelves.”
Amanda Stephenson from O'Fallon, MO is petitioning the American Beverage Association. She notes that although BVO is legally used as an ingredient in citrus-flavored beverages in the US, the safety of its use has come into question in recent years after two cases of overconsumption of beverages containing the product landed consumers in the hospital.
The USFDA removed BVO from its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredient list in the 1970s, and gave it an “interim” status, “pending the outcome of additional toxicological studies” which were to be conducted every six months before a conclusion was reached. Thirty-six years later, the ingredient has been banned in India, Japan, and throughout Europe but continues to be used in the U.S. However it has not been restored to its place on the GRAS list.