Flavored Soft Drinks, Sports Drinks, and Beverages

BVO Ban by FDA. What's BVO?

The FDA recently proposed a ban or a revoke of regulations allowing the use of Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) in foods sold and consumed in the US. BVO is already banned in Europe and Japan. California was the first US state to ban BVO in October 2023.

So, what is brominated vegetable oil, you ask? Apparently, it's an emulsifier and stabilizer used mostly in some citrus or fruit flavored soft drinks, sports drinks, and  other beverages to prevent the separation of ingredients. (Food science is amazing and scary to us all at once.) BMO contains bromine, which can act as a flame retardant and has been linked to health concerns when consumed in large quantities.

OK, so what are these health concerns, right? Most of the observed health risks center around neurological and thyroid issues. It's still controversial but it sounds like there's enough data to act on now. Some of the health risks associated with bromine are:

  • Neurological - headaches, fatigue, memory loss, and cognitive impairment
  • Thyroid - hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism
  • Skin and Eye Irritation, Skin Burns
  • Gastrointestinal - nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
  • Long Term Health - reproductive and developmental issues, carcinogenic effects

Please keep in mind that the severity of these health risks depend on the level and duration of exposure to bromine. You're not going to have these problems if you drink one can of soda with BVO. You can develop symptoms over time if you consistently drink a soda containing BVO. It's not supposed to happen right away. 

Most manufacturers have already removed BVO or replaced it with an alternative years ago. However, it's always good to check the ingredients list and be aware of what you're putting in your body. It's our preference to stay away from processed foods as much as possible though. You just never really know what other ingredients will be banned tomorrow, even though it has been used in foods for decades. Scary!


Here are a few links to interesting articles regarding the FDA proposal and BVO:

  • https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-proposes-ban-food-additive-continues-assessments-additional-chemicals
  • https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/brominated-vegetable-oil-bvo
  • https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/10/health/food-additives-dye-brominated-vegetable-oil-wellness/index.html
  • https://advocacy.consumerreports.org/press_release/consumer-reports-supports-fdas-proposed-ban-of-brominated-vegetable-oil-bvo-in-food/
  • https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news-release/2023/11/fda-bans-use-brominated-vegetable-oil-food
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