Brominated vegetable oil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a complex mixture of plant-derived triglycerides that have been modified by atoms of the element bromine bonded to the fat molecules. Brominated vegetable oil is used to help emulsify citrus-flavored soft drinks, preventing them from separating during distribution. Brominated vegetable oil has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931, generally at a level of about 8 ppm.[1][2]

Careful control of the type of oil used allows bromination of it to produce BVO with a specific density of 1.33 g/mL, which is one-third greater than water (1 g/mL). As a result, it can be mixed with less-dense flavoring agents such as citrus oil to produce an oil which matches the density of water or other products. The droplets containing BVO remain suspended in the water rather than separating and floating to the surface.[2]

Alternative food additives used for the same purpose include sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB, E444) and glycerol ester of wood rosin (ester gum, E445).

Chemical structure of a representative constituent of BVO, featuring, from the top, brominated linoleate, linolenoate, and oleate esters.[2]

Brominated vegetable oil has the CAS number 8016-94-2 and the EC number 232-416-5.[3]

Regulation and use[edit]

United States[edit]

In the United States, BVO was designated in 1958 as generally recognized as safe (GRAS),[2] but this was withdrawn by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1970.[4] The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations currently imposes restrictions on the use of BVO as a food additive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,[5] limiting the amount of free fatty acids to 2.5 percent, and limiting the iodine value to 16.[6]

An online petition at asking PepsiCo to stop adding BVO to Gatorade and other products collected over 200,000 signatures by January 2013.[7] The petition pointed out that since Gatorade is sold in countries where BVO is not approved, there was already an existing formulation without this ingredient. PepsiCo announced in January 2013 that it would no longer use BVO in Gatorade.[8][9] As of 2023, the companies behind many large beverage brands, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, have stopped using the ingredient, but it is still found in some smaller grocery store brands.[10]

On May 5, 2014, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo said they would remove BVO from their products.[11] As of early 2020, PepsiCo has stopped using BVO in all its products.[12]

BVO is still used in Sun Drop, made by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.[13] Numerous generic citrus sodas also use it, including Stars & Stripes orange soda from Dollar Tree,[14] Mountain Lightning and Orangette from Walmart, and Clover Valley from Dollar General. BVO is much less frequently used as an emulsifier in non-carbonated drinks, such as flavoring syrups for caffeinated beverages[15] and specialty juices.[16]

BVO is one of four substances that the FDA has defined as "interim" food additives;[17][18] the other three are acrylonitrile copolymers, mannitol, and saccharin.[19]

In May 2023, New York considered banning the use of brominated vegetable oil in foods because it acts as an endocrine disruptor, especially affecting the thyroid hormone and may also harm the reproductive system.[10]

In October 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved a law that banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of brominated vegetable oil (along with three other additives: potassium bromate, propylparaben, and Red 3). This is the first law in the U.S. to ban it, and will possibly have nationwide effects.[20] The ban of its use in foods will go into effect in 2027.[21][22]

In November 2023, the FDA proposed revoking its authorization of BVO for use as an additive in food products. The reason for the proposed revocation is due to health issues associated with BVO, which can include headaches and nervous system damage.[23]

Other countries[edit]

In Canada, BVO is currently permitted as a food additive, but only in beverages containing citrus or spruce oils.[24]

In the European Union, BVO is banned from use as a food additive; it was originally banned in the UK and several other European countries in 1970;[25][26] and any BVO-containing products that may slip through the regulations are pulled from shelves upon discovery.[27] In the EU, beverage companies commonly use glycerol ester of wood rosin or locust bean gum as an alternative to BVO.

In India, standards for soft drinks have prohibited the use of BVO since 1990.[28]

In Japan, the use of BVO as a food additive has been banned since 2010.[2]

Health effects[edit]

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.[29] 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.[30]


  1. ^ "Pepsi Product Information: Ingredient Glossary". PepsiCo. Archived from the original on 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e Paul Bendig; Lisa Maier; Walter Vetter (2012). "Brominated vegetable oil in soft drinks – an underrated source of human organobromine intake". Food Chemistry. 133 (3): 678–682. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.01.058.
  3. ^ "EC Inventory". Retrieved 2023-11-04.
  4. ^ Food additives. Brominated vegetable oils; removal from list of substances generally recognized as safe. Federal Register (1970), 35(18), 1049
  5. ^ D.L. Turner (1972). "Determination of brominated vegetable oil concentrations in soft drinks using a specific ion electrode". Journal of Food Science. 37 (5): 791–792. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1972.tb02754.x.
  6. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21—Food and Drugs, Chapter I—Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Subchapter B—Food for Human Consumption, Part 180—Food Additives Permitted in Food or in Contact with Food on an Interim Basis Pending Additional Study". Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  7. ^ Strom, Stephanie (13 December 2012). "Another look at a drink ingredient, Brominated Vegetable OIl". New York Times. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  8. ^ Stephanie Strom (January 25, 2013). "PepsiCo Will Halt Use of Additive in Gatorade" (blog by NYT journalist). The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  9. ^ "Gatorade to remove controversial ingredient". AP. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  10. ^ a b Two States Have Proposed Bans on Common Food Additives Linked to Health Concerns by Dana G. Smith, April 13, 2023 on the New York Times website. Last access 5/23/2023.
  11. ^ Choi, Candice (May 5, 2014). "Coke, Pepsi dropping 'BVO' from all drinks". Associated Press. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
  12. ^ "Watch for This Harmful Chemical in Your Soda | Environmental Working Group". 2021-01-13. Retrieved 2023-11-17.
  13. ^ "Sun Drop Citrus Flavored Soda". Keurig Dr. Pepper. Retrieved November 11, 2023.
  14. ^ "Stars & Stripes Flavored Soda, Sweet Orange". Fooducate. Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  15. ^ "Skinny Mixes/Syrups: Nutrition & Ingredients information" (PDF). September 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 18, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2020.
  16. ^ "Thick & Easy Thickened Beverage 72461 4 Oz Case of 24, Prune Flavor". Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  17. ^ "Food Additive Status List". Food and Drug Administration. 26 August 2021.
  18. ^ Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum (1999). Enhancing the Regulatory Decision-Making Approval Process for Direct Food Ingredient Technologies. The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/9453. ISBN 978-0-309-06486-6. PMID 25077191.
  19. ^ Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum (1999). Enhancing the Regulatory Decision-Making Approval Process for Direct Food Ingredient Technologies. Institute of Medicine. p. 31. doi:10.17226/9453. ISBN 978-0-309-06486-6. PMID 25077191. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  20. ^ California isn’t banning Skittles, but four additives will be removed by Marlene Cimons, Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2023. The article notes that Red dye No. 3, bromated vegetable oil, potassium bromate and propyl paraben all have been linked to risk of cancer and hyperactivity in children.
  21. ^ "AB-418 The California Food Safety Act".
  22. ^ Hernandez, Joe. "California becomes the first state to ban 4 food additives linked to disease". NPR. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  23. ^ Rogers, Kristen (2023-11-02). "FDA proposes ban on additive found in sodas". CNN. Retrieved 2023-11-03.
  24. ^ "List of Permitted Food Additives with Other Accepted Uses". Health Canada. 27 November 2006. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  25. ^ "Brominated vegetable oil: Why is BVO in my drink?". Mayo Clinic. April 5, 2013. Archived from the original on 2020-06-18. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  26. ^ Friberg, Stig; Larsson, Kare; Sjoblom, Johan (2003-11-04). Food Emulsions. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-203-91322-2.
  27. ^ "Banned emulsifier in soft drink". Retrieved 2020-06-18.
  28. ^ "DIRECTORS' REPORT 1990-91". Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
  29. ^ Horowitz BZ (1997). "Bromism from excessive cola consumption". Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology. 35 (3): 315–320. doi:10.3109/15563659709001219. PMID 9140329.
  30. ^ Matthew Alice (1999-07-29). "Straight from the Hip: What is Brominated Vegetable Oil?". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 2007-09-17.

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