Brominated Vegetable Oil

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September 30, 2013:Soft drink companies quietly moving away from BVO. Pepsi Caves and Removes BVO from Gatorade. No word on Mountain Dew just yet.
BVO makes Yahoo News

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Food Additives:

For a comprehensive list of food additives and their effects, consult C. Griswold when he is not out of town.

How Dangerous is Brominated Vegetable Oil?

Controversy Surrounds Decades Old Food Additive

What is brominated vegetable oil? As the name suggests, it contains bromine, which is associated with furniture, flame retardants, and products for kids. Of course, this alone does not make it dangerous in the sense that salt, which is essential for life, is 50% chlorine, which is found in bleach and swimming pool disinfectant. There is research pointing to a link between brominate flame retardants and changes in fertility, brain impairment, and early puberty, so parents should carefully study the question as to whether they want to risk intangibles or risk a fiery death. Studies on oil indicate that bromine may build up in tissues, especially those containing fat, and in rodents there are reports of heart lesions when massive quantites are consumed.

Brominated Vegetable OilThe use of brominated vegetable oil is primarily to keep flavors in beverages from separating, which is why you find it in many soft drinks. Brominated Vegetable Oil has been used for the last 70 years. As an additive, it was exempted since it was generally recognized as being safe, though as with anything there are probably reasons for further study. In the nineteen seventies, the ingredient was taken off the list by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association owing to some research showing that the question was still open. The FDA has approved the use of BVO up to 15PPM in 1977 and has not changed since. One recent study which associated video game users who drank energy beverages said that these people have skin and nerve disorders as well as memory loss, but the assumption may be that other factors, including the sedentary nature of gaming, may have made a contribution. There is also some fear that BVO might be released during dieting and weight loss, so any negative effects may manifest themselves while the substance is excreted from the body.

Perhaps the biggest issue with BVO research is that there is not enough to decide whether the doubts about its use constitute fear mongering. After all, bromine is present around the Dead Sea, and it prevents sunburn, and people pay a pretty penny for cosmetics with dead sea salts in them. People also used bromine in bromides for some time as a sedative product. Also, if you're afraid of bromine, you may want to curb your consumption of sushi with seaweed in it, since bromine was originally discovered by burning dried seaweeds, and it is a component found in many marine organisms.

Drinks containing Brominated Vegetable Oil Include:

Mountain Dew
Fresca Original Citrus
Fanta Orange
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange
Squirt
Sunkist Pineapple
Powerade Strawberry Lemonade

You may note that BVO is found in drinks that have citrus flavors, and this is because the additive keeps the citrus oils stable and prevents them from separating.

Notes and Special Information

Special note: People spend too much time panicking about food additives when they are in foods that may not be all that great to consume anyway. What kind of person focuses on the emulsifer when the sugars in the drink kill more people every year?