While PepsiCo originally removed BVO from their Gatorade drinks in January 2013, they took the opportunity today to announced that they would stop using brominated vegetable oil in the rest of their products too, but without a specific timeline.
What is BVO?
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is plant-derived oil, that in the food industry is used with citrus based drinks to keep them from separating during distribution. The oil is mixed with the ingredients that are less dense then water to keep those ingredients from separating and floating to the top. The BVO oil is produced to be the same density as water, so all the ingredients stay evenly mixed.
Originally recognized as safe. In 1958 the United States added BVO to the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list, but this was later withdrawn by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1970. It is still legally allowed to be used in foods, as long as the concentration is less then 15 parts per million. It is usually around 8 parts per million in consumer drinks.
The use of BVO as a food additive is currently banned in Europe, India and Japan.
Beverages that use or did use BVO
PepsiCo: Mountain Dew, Gatorade and Amp energy drinks.
Coca-Cola: Powerade, Fanta Orange and Fresca
Dr Pepper Snapple Group: Squirt, Sun Drop and Sunkist Peach Soda
Pushing for Change
This change was triggered by an online pettition on Change.org started by Sarah Kavanagh, a 17-year-old teenager from Mississippi.
Sarah is a fan of Orange Gatorade, and as she put it: "I’m not a scientist, but there are lots of suspicious things about putting a flame retardant chemical in Gatorade. … Why would Gatorade want to put it in a product designed for people like me who are into sports and health? It doesn’t make sense.”
The original January 2013 petition received a lot of support, with over 200,000 signatures!