FDA Proposes Ban on Brominated Vegetable Oil, Found in Fruity Sports Drinks and Sodas

by Ella

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken a significant step by proposing the ban of brominated vegetable oil, a food additive that was once widely used in popular beverages like Gatorade and Mountain Dew. This decision comes in response to mounting concerns over potential health risks associated with the additive, including damage to the liver, heart, and brain.

Brominated vegetable oil has historically served as a crucial ingredient in fruit-flavored sports drinks and sodas, primarily to prevent the separation of ingredients. Notably, it contains bromine, an element also used in flame retardants.


While many major beverage manufacturers, including industry giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have already phased out the use of this additive in their products, it can still be found in smaller grocery store brands and certain regional beverages, such as Sun Drop citrus-flavored soda.


It’s worth noting that both the European Union and Japan have previously banned the use of brominated vegetable oil in food and beverages.


Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that prohibited four food additives, including brominated vegetable oil. This move made California the first state to ban these chemicals, despite their continued approval by the FDA.


The FDA’s recent decision to propose the ban of brominated vegetable oil is based on findings that the additive poses risks to health, particularly concerning the thyroid gland. Studies conducted on rodents revealed the ingredient’s toxicity to the thyroid, a vital gland responsible for regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. Previous research has also suggested potential harm to the liver, heart, and the possibility of causing neurological issues.

The FDA stated, “Based on these data and remaining unresolved safety questions, the FDA can no longer conclude that the use of BVO in food is safe.”

Interestingly, in 1970, the FDA removed brominated vegetable oil from the list of substances “Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective” due to concerns over its potential harm to the body. However, the agency continued to permit its use in products on an “interim” basis.

The FDA has opened a public comment period for its proposed rule until January 17. If the ban is approved, the agency intends to provide beverage manufacturers with at least one year to reformulate or relabel their products before enforcing the new rule.

Additionally, the FDA has initiated a reassessment of the potential cancer risk associated with red dye No. 3, a synthetic food coloring that was also included in California’s ban on food additives.



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