FDA Proposes Banning Controversial Pop Ingredient

California has already banned brominated vegetable oil
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2023 2:52 PM CST
FDA Proposed Banning Controversial Pop Ingredient
Drinks containing BVO tend to be citrus-flavored and brightly colored.   (Getty Images/monticelllo)

The Food and Drug Administration might follow California's lead with a ban on a controversial ingredient found in some citrus-flavored soft drinks. CBS News reports that the agency has proposed banning brominated vegetable oil, which has been used in drinks for around a century. The ingredient, which includes bromine, a chemical used in flame retardants, has been considered possibly unsafe for more than 50 years but is still present in some drinks, including Keurig Dr. Pepper's Sun Drop soda. The company says it is "actively reformulating" the drink to remove BVO.

The ingredient, which stops citrus flavoring rising to the top of drinks, is already banned in the European Union and Japan. A ban passed in California last month will take effect in 2027. "We recognize that California recently took steps to ban the use of four food ingredients, including BVO, in that state," the FDA said in a news release. "The agency is continuously reviewing and reassessing the safety of a variety of chemicals in food to ensure the science and the law support their safe use in food, including all four ingredients that are part of the recent California law." The agency noted that many manufacturers have already reformulated their products and relatively few drinks still contain BVO.

The FDA said it is proposing the ban based on recent studies in rats that found the ingredient can cause thyroid damage, NPR reports. Consumer advocates including Consumer Reports praised the move. "Toxic additives like BVO that have been shown to pose toxic risks to the thyroid and other chronic health problems should not be allowed in our food," said director of food policy Brian Ronholm. (More brominated vegetable oil stories.)

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