The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it plans to ban the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as a food additive because it can be harmful to human health.
Brominated vegetable oil is a brominated modified vegetable oil. The additive is used in small amounts to prevent citrus flavorings from separating and floating to the top of the beverage.
According to the FDA, studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revealed bromine bioaccumulation and toxic effects on the thyroid. This gland produces hormones that play a key role in regulating blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, metabolism, and the body’s reaction to other hormones.
The FDA concluded that the use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe, based on the results of NIH studies indicating the potential for adverse health effects.
In a press release, Consumer Reports applauded the FDA for its proposed ban on BVO, which is found in a number of sports drinks and sodas.
“The evidence is clear that brominated vegetable oil in soft drinks and other beverages poses an unacceptable risk to our health,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports. “Toxic additives like BVO, which have been shown to pose toxic risks to thyroid and other chronic health problems, should not be allowed in our food. We are encouraged that the FDA has reexamined recent studies documenting the health risks posed by BVO and is taking steps to ban its use.”
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Over the years, many beverage manufacturers have reformulated their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient. Today, few beverages in the U.S. contain BVO, the FDA said.
Consumers who want to avoid products containing brominated vegetable oil can search for it by name in the ingredient list.
“We recognize that California recently took steps to ban the use of four food ingredients, including BVO, in that state,” stated Jim Jones, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods. “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,” Jones added.
The FDA has regulated BVO as a food additive since removing it from the codified list of substances generally recognized as safe, or “GRAS,” in 1970.