Brominated vegetable oil
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil that has had atoms of the element bromine bonded to it. Brominated vegetable oil is used to stabilize citrus-flavored soft drinks. Its high density helps the droplets of natural fat-soluble citrus flavors stay suspended in the drink. BVO has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931, generally at a level of about 8 ppm.
Careful control of the type of oil used allows bromination of it to produce BVO with a specific density (1.33 g/mL). As a result, it can be mixed with less-dense flavoring agents such as citrus flavor oil to produce a resulting oil whose density matches that of water or other products. The droplets containing BVO remain suspended in the water rather than separating and floating at the surface.
Regulation and use
In the United States, BVO was designated in 1958 as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), but this was withdrawn by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1970. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations currently imposes restrictions on the use of BVO as a food additive in the United States, limiting the concentration to 15 ppm, limiting the amount of free fatty acids to 2.5 percent, and limiting the iodine value to 16. As of 2012 it was used in Gatorade and Mountain Dew manufactured by PepsiCo; Powerade, Fanta Orange and Fresca made by Coca-Cola; and Squirt, Sun Drop and Sunkist Peach Soda, made by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
BVO is currently permitted as a food additive in Canada.
The use of BVO as a food additive has been banned in Japan since 2010.
The United States Food and Drug Administration considers BVO to be safe for use as a food additive. However, there are case reports of adverse effects associated with excessive consumption of BVO-containing products. One case reported that a man who consumed two to four liters of a soda containing BVO on a daily basis experienced memory loss, tremors, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, headache, and ptosis of the right eyelid, as well as elevated serum chloride. In the two months it took to correctly diagnose the problem, the patient also lost the ability to walk. Eventually, bromism was diagnosed and hemodialysis was prescribed which resulted in a reversal of the disorder.
An online petition at Change.org asking PepsiCo to stop adding BVO to Gatorade and other products collected over 200,000 signatures by January 2013. The petition pointed out that since Gatorade is sold in countries where BVO is not approved, there is already an existing formulation without this ingredient. PepsiCo announced in January 2013 that it would no longer use BVO in Gatorade, but had no plans to remove it from Mountain Dew.
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