Let’s face it, we all have a carbonated beverage now and again, or a Gatorade after a long workout. Or maybe your the one who opts for the “sugar-free” beverage FRESCA when you want to reduce your caloric intake and be nicer to your body (even though it still contains aspartame).
So what do Gatorate, Powerade, Mountain Dew and Fresca all have in common? A chemical called “Brominate Vegetable Oil” (BVO). BVO is classified as a food additive, but there is limited knowledge of its composition, researchers have found. However, it does contain bromine, which is also a flame retardant! YUCK! It’s main use however is to keep flavor oils in suspension and provide that cloudy appearance.
Although, Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration in the USA say there are “no health risks associated with BVO when the density-adjusting agent is used according to regulations” (i.e. 15 ppm are allowed to be used in citrus or spruce-flavored beverages as consumed), it still doesn’t sit right with many consumers today. If it there are no health risks, why is it banned in Japan and mostly all EU countries?!
It is important to note the BVO was used in Canada prior to the creation of Health Canada’s food additive table in 1964 and was only formally added to the table with its current restrictions in the late 1960s or 1970s (aka, when North American’s were not addicted to soda!). The problem only escalates when you learn that carbonated soft drinks are the most-consumed beverages, with an average of 44.7 gallons consumed per person, per year in America (source: Huffington Post). So it is most likely, that consumers will ingest more than the limit of 15ppm of BVO – making it harmful to one’s health!
Health Effects of Bromine To Body
So what are the exact health implications BVO causes? There is limited research but scientists will acknowledge that bromine Bromine will build up in your body lipids (aka your body holds onto it and doesn’t properly excrete it). According to Mary Hartley, R.D. in SHAPE Magazine…
“BVO leaves residues in the body’s fatty tissues, including the brain, liver, and other organs,” Hartley says. “It can cause a wide variety of symptoms, such as headaches, vision problems, loss of coordination, and skin rashes. Animal studies show that BVO is transferred from mother’s milk to a nursing infant, which, in theory, could cause heart lesions, fatty changes in the liver, impaired growth, and behavioral problems.”
Action Taken to Remove Brominated Vegetable Oil From Gatorade
There has been an overgrowing movement to take BVO out of PepsiCo’s drinks. In fact, a young girl by the name of Sara Kavanagh, now 16, created a petition on the ever-so-popular “change.org” website last year called “Don’t put flame retardant chemicals in Gatorade” after Goggling the ingredient found on her Gatorade. As a result 206,652 people signed her online petition and as of January, 2013 PepsiCo removed BVO from Gatorade, and replaced it with “sucrose acetate isobutyrate” (SAID).
Small Problem – PepsiCo’s ONLY removed BVO from Gatorade, not Mountain Dew or Fresca
I applaud PepsiCo for doing the responsible thing and voluntarily getting BVO out of Gatorade without waiting for government officials to require it to do so. That said, Gatorade without BVO is nutritionally no better than with it.
The unfortunate part about all this, is that despite PepsiCo taking BVO out of GATORADE and replacing this chemical with SAID, they did NOT REMOVE BVO from any other products they make. It is still in Mountain Dew and a slew of other soft drinks -grr!
If you want PepsiCo to remove BVO from all drinks, sign the petition here.