The Coca Cola company is quietly removing brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its Powerade line of sports drinks. The move comes only months after PepsiCo subsidiary Gatorade announced it will be removing BVO from its sport drink by the end of the year.
You won’t see news of the removal in Coca Cola’s Press Releases, and understandably so. Publicizing the removal of BVO is an open admission that the company has for years used a potentially harmful ingredient in its products.
Brominated vegetable oil, is a mix of vegetable oil and bromine that keeps flavor suspended in liquids. This is especially useful in citrus flavored drinks.
Bromine is corrosive and extremely hazardous to human skin and lungs. That’s why the FDA has limited the use of BVO to 15 parts per million. In the European Union, a better approach was adopted – BVO is banned!
The damage from BVO likely occurs in the long term, as bromine can accumulate over time in the human body. In rat studies, consumptions of BVOs led to a variety of ailments, ranging from decreased levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol to myocardial degeneration.
In 1970, the FDA removed BVO from its list of safe ingredients (GRAS – Generally Recognized as Safe), “pending the outcome of additional toxicological studies on which periodic reports at 6-month intervals are to be furnished and final results submitted to the Food and Drug Administration promptly after completion of the studies.” Unfortunately no such studies were ever furnished.
What made Pepsi & Coke remove BVO after all these years? Consumer pressure. Keep pushing folks!