Health

Brominated Vegetable Oil Banned in Europe, But Used in U.S. Drinks

| by Michael Allen
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Europe and Japan have banned brominated vegetable oil, which is an ingredient used in beverages available across the United States.

Brominated vegetable oil, also known is BVO, is included in Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade and Squirt.

However, if you buy these drinks in Europe and Japan, the chemical is removed for health reasons, reports the New York Times.

About 10 percent of drinks sold in the U.S. contain BVO. According to some studies, rodents subjected to BVO developed reproductive and behavioral problems.

Sarah Kavanagh, a teen from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, became aware of BVO while examining a bottle of Gatorade and researching BVO on the web.

Kavanagh told the New York Times: “I knew it probably wasn’t from an animal because it had vegetable in the name, but I still wanted to know what it was, so I Googled it. A page popped up with a long list of possible side effects, including neurological disorders and altered thyroid hormones. I didn’t expect that.”

“BVO is banned other places in the world, so these companies already have a replacement for it. I don’t see why they don’t just make the switch.”

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Kavanagh has launched a petition on Change.org to end the use of BVO in U.S. drinks.

Since her petition was launched in November, Kavanagh has collected over 205,000 signatures.

On her Change.org petition, Kavanagh states that one of the elements of BVO, bromine, is used often to make products flame retardant: “I’m not a scientist, but if there are lots of suspicious things about putting a flame retardant chemical in Gatorade (most flavors don’t even use it!) then why would Gatorade want to put it in a product designed for people like me who are into sports and health?”

Kavanagh told the Chicago Tribune: "I was shocked that they'd put their consumers at risk like that and that the FDA would allow something like that to be put in products."

The Food and Drug Administration claims that all foods sold legally in the U.S. are safe for human consumption. 

The FDA told the Chicago Tribune that the U.S. food supply is “the safest in the world” and FDA's job is to “protect public health by ensuring that foods are safe and properly labeled.”

Michael Jacobson, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the Chicago Tribune: "The FDA has been extremely lenient in evaluating food additives and it's almost impossible to get the FDA to ban an additive once they have approved it. It's just not as public health oriented as it should be. I just don't think they're doing enough to protect the public's health with regard to food additives."