Gatorade to Remove Controversial Ingredient. Still Overmarketed, Unnecessary

Gatorade Perform with BVO

A first small step in a good direction?
Gatorade is planning to remove a controversial ingredient, Brominated Vegetable Oil, from its beverages this year. Parent company PepsiCo says the change was in the works for the last year. But it certainly must have helped that Sarah Kavanagh, a 15 year old volleyball player from Mississippi started an online petition that went viral, asking Gatorade to remove said ingredient.

A spokeswoman for Gatorade said that the change was due to consumer demand, not because of any health concerns – “we don’t find a health and safety risk with B.V.O.”

What you need to know:

BROMINATED VEGETABLE OIL is a key ingredient in artificially citrus-flavored drinks like Mountain Dew, Fresca, and some varieties of Gatorade. (But not in Europe, where it’s been banned for years.)

It serves two main functions — it is a stabilizer and also responsible for that slightly cloudy look these beverages have.

In essence, take a vegetable oil, add some bromine atoms and — voilà – you now have brominated vegetable oil. For the record, liquid bromine — also found in photo paper, car seats, mattresses, and carpeting — is corrosive and extremely hazardous to our skin and lungs.

So what’s the health risk?

Well, bromine is fat-soluble and builds up in our tissues. A 16-ounce soft drink made with brominated vegetable oil contains approximately 2 milligrams of bromine. BVO consumption in rats has been shown to cause degeneration and/or inflammation of the heart muscle, increase in bad cholesterol, and behavior changes.

Here is an entire blog post we devoted to the risks of BVO and the FDA’s weak arguments in its favor.

This is the ingredient list for Gatorade G2 Orange:

water, sucrose, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, gum arabic, yellow 6, glycerol ester of rosin, brominated vegetable oil.

Aside from the BVO, we are looking at 5 tsp of sugar (all 80 calories in the product), no nutrients, and artificial coloring (yellow 6) to boot.


Sarah – you rock!

Gatorade – you don’t. Despite this positive spin, your products are, for the most part, full of unnecessary ingredients, and are marketed to a mass population that can do just as fine with water and a banana after a workout.

We’ve written extensively about Gatorade here, here, and here. If you are not an elite athlete, doing over an hour of heavy exercise at a time, you don’t need any special recovery foods or beverages.

  • amber @ au coeur

    I agree. Even with the change gatorade is full of garbage. This is nothing more than PR spin.


  • Mayan Orgel

    Hmmm… So they’re not actually removing it – they’ replacing it with something else. So what is that something else? It sounds like switching from BPA to BPB – which is worse? Or will they perhaps just pay the FDA to help them clean label it (like how the FDA allows MSG to be clean labeled as “natural flavor”).

    And, did anyone else notice what’s sitting there right next to BVO? This stuff is full of junk and should not be consumed by anyone – whether it contains BVO or not.

    • Fooducate

      One can only hope the new ingredient(s) will be less controversial. But as you said, best to hydrate with water…

  • Carol H.

    All fruits and veggies contain “electrolytes”. Just eat a piece of fruit/veggie with your water or add a dash of juice.

  • James Cooper

    You must surely know that liquid bromine and a brominated oil are chemically completely different, and that no matter how noxious liquid bromine is (it is really nasty) it has nothing to do with a brominated carbon chain. Brominated vegetable oil has its own problems but they are mild compared to liquid bromine!

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