FDA To Ban “Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)” Additive In Beverages From Harlem To Hawaii

July 5, 2024

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally getting around to executing its ban on brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in beverages.

The FDA said the ban is effective August 2, 2024.

BVO is a vegetable oil that is modified with bromine. As authorized, the FDA said it was used in small amounts, not to exceed 15 parts per million, as a stabilizer for fruit flavoring in beverages to keep the citrus flavoring from floating to the top. 

BVO was required to be listed as an ingredient on the label as “brominated vegetable oil” or as the specific oil that has been brominated, such as “brominated soybean oil”. Over time, many beverage makers have reformulated their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient. Today, few beverages in the U.S. contain BVO the FDA said.

Announced months ago

The FDA first announced its intentions to ban BVO in soft drinks in November 2023, citing studies that show the accumulation of bromine can have adverse effects on humans, in particular on the thyroid gland.

Most consumers probably won’t notice any difference since over the year, beverage manufacturers have phased out its use. In 1970 BVO lost its “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) status. After that, many beverage manufacturers reformulated their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient. According to the FDA, few beverages in the U.S. still contain BVO. 

The FDA says recent toxicology studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have provided conclusive scientific evidence to support the removal of the FDA’s food additive authorization for BVO. 

USA Today wrote, that the USDA’s database shows many grocery store soda brands and regional beverages that may also contain BVO.

“Sun Drop, manufactured by Keurig Dr Pepper, still uses BVO … This is probably the biggest national brand that still uses it,” CFRA Research’s Arun Sundaram told Reuters Tuesday.

“We are actively reformulating Sun Drop to no longer include this ingredient and will remain compliant with all state and federal regulations,” a KDP spokesperson told USA TODAY in an emailed statement Wednesday.

To see if a product contains BVO, you can check its ingredient list.

Drinks that contain BVO will say “brominated vegetable oil” or “brominated” and a specific type of oil, such as soybean, on the ingredient list, Thomas Galligan, Ph.D., principal scientist for food additives and supplements at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told Today.

Galligan offered a few other tips in spotting BVO, as reported by Today:

  • It’s most common in citrus-flavored drinks.
  • If the drink looks cloudy throughout the bottle, it may contain BVO.
  • Generic, off-brand sodas are more likely to have BVO than name brands.
  • If you’re drinking fountain soda in a restaurant, they usually carry name brands, so the risk of it having BVO is lower, but ask a restaurant worker about the brand and ingredients if you’re concerned.

USA Today continued, that added that the The FDA says many beverage makers have reformulated their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient.

PepsiCo agreed in 2013 to remove BVO from Gatorade, and in 2014 both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they would remove the ingredient from all their beverages.

While the ingredient remained in Mountain Dew for a few years after 2014, USA TODAY confirmed in a 2020 fact check that PepsiCo no longer uses the ingredient in the drink.

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