Thank you Sara Cavanagh and the power of the internet! Thanks to Sara so many of us will now think twice about drinking Gatorade, Mountain Dew and a whole list of citrus flavored juices and sodas. My family always avoids these drinks because of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring and colors, but now there is one more VERY COMPELLING reason…Brominated Vegetable Oil or BVO. BVO is a food additive long on the FDA’s interim list pending further study, but now raised from obscurity.
List in Formation of Drinks Containing BVO
Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange
Powerade Strawberry Lemonade
Powerade Fruit Punch
Fresca Original Citrus
Sarah is a is a teenage girl from Hattiesburg, MS . She is a vegan and one day as she eyed a cold, thirst quenching Gatorade, she quickly checked the ingredients and noticed one she never heard of before, BVO. A quick Google search revealed a page with a long list of possible side effects, including neurological disorders and altered thyroid hormones. Within seconds she threw the drink away, but she did not walk away. She acted.
Sarah did what the younger generation does best. She used the internet and created a petition on Change.org for Pepsi to remove BVO from Gatorade. Incredibly in two months, she attracted more than 200,000 signatures bringing national attention to an issue ignored by our supposedly, trustworthy FDA and…her petition worked! On January 25, PepsiCo announced it would no longer use BVO in Gatorade!
Scientists originally created BVO for use as a flame retardant in plastics and for generations the food industry has been using it as a stabilizer in certain sodas, sports drinks, and juices. It keeps the artificial flavoring from separating and floating to the top of the can, bottle, or glass. Hold a bottle of Mountain Dew to a light. It’s cloudy. Brominated vegetable oil creates the cloudy look by keeping the fruity flavor mixed into the drink and not on the surface. Brominated vegetable oil, which is derived from soybean or corn, contains bromine atoms, which weigh down the citrus flavoring so it mixes with sugar water, or in the case of flame retardants, slows down chemical reactions that cause a fire.
According to What is that Ingredient, “In test animals, BVO consumption has caused damage to the heart and kidneys in addition to increasing fat deposits in these organs. In extreme cases BVO has caused testicular damage, stunted growth and produced lethargy and fatigue.” In mouse studies, big doses caused reproductive and behavioral problems. According to WebMD, “Scientists are studying brominated flame retardants because blood tests show that these chemicals can build up in our bodies. Early studies suggest that flame-retardant chemicals disrupt normal hormone function, leading to problems with brain development in children, thyroid function, and possibly cancer.
YIKES!!!!!! Who would ever drink this stuff again? To avoid it, we may unfortunately have to move to Europe or Japan. Both, rightly banned BVO, but not the good old USA. The FDA history is suspect.
BVO was originally banned in 1970 to only be reinstated 6 months later at limited levels after a petition by those in the food industry. Since that time BVO has languished for decades in limbo on a list of food additives permitted on an interim basis pending further study, studies that never happened! Supposedly, BVO does not present ENOUGH of a health threat to warrant spending the resources necessary for the FDA to make a decision. While we all may never heard of BVO, others have and despite pressure from Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, nothing has changed at the FDA.
So then along comes Sarah, the 15 year old and her petition and voila! Action. Pepsi responds and while this is a victory, it is a modest one. Pepsi will not be removing BVO from Mountain Dew or Diet Mountain Dew. Why should they? According to Pepsi, they meet all government/FDA standards and sales on these soft drinks alone are $1 billion/year. For now… They will also not be removing any of the existing Gatorade from shelves, so do not be lulled into complacency or safety and go back to drinking your citrus Gatorade. Coca Cola’s Powerade? No word of any change, but change did happen because of Sara and her campaign. Voices do speak and money speaks. If people stop buying, they stop selling or feel the pressure to change. 10% of all juices and sodas contain BVO. Read your labels and stop purchasing and we will then hit them, the big guys, where it hurts rather than the other way around!
Thank again Sarah Kavanagh for doing our homework and the job of the FDA!