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  • Writer's pictureRayki Goh, MSc

FDA Moves to Ban Controversial Soda Ingredient: What's Next for Our Beverages?

The FDA targets BVO, a long-used emulsifier in citrus sodas, due to health risks. With alternatives available, how will this impact your favourite drinks?

brominated vegetable oil in colour soda

Dear Food People,


Let's chat about something that's been making waves in the food industry and might be of interest to you, especially if you're into what goes into your food and drinks. So, the big news is that the FDA, which is the authority that oversees food safety in the US, is looking to ban an ingredient that's been used in citrus-flavoured sodas for a really long time. This ingredient helps keep the tangy flavour consistent throughout the drink. Recent studies suggest that its days in the US are numbered.

 

This ingredient we're talking about is BVO, or brominated vegetable oil. It's been used since the 1930s to make sure the citrus flavour doesn't just float to the top of your soda. Manufacturers attach bromine atoms to a specific type of oil to increase its density for better mixing with the drink. But it's not just about mixing; there's more to BVO than meets the eye.

 

Research on animals has suggested that BVO can accumulate in our fat tissues over time. This is concerning because bromine could interfere with iodine, which our thyroid gland requires to function properly. Because of these health concerns, BVO has already been banned in a bunch of places, like India, Japan, and countries in the European Union. Even California decided to say goodbye to BVO, with a ban starting in 2027.

 

The FDA once thought BVO was safe, classifying it as GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) back in the 1950s. However, they started having doubts in the 1960s because of its potential toxicity, which led them to restrict its use. Despite these restrictions, gathering solid data on BVO's long-term effects has been challenging. It requires studies that look at the health effects on a lot of people over a long period of time. However, mounting evidence has emerged against BVO, including a 1970s British study that discovered bromine accumulating in human tissues and other research that linked high levels of BVO to a variety of health problems.

 

Newer studies indicate that the FDA is currently moving towards a permanent a ban on BVO. Fortunately, prominent carbonated beverage companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have initiated the process of eliminating BVO from their products over the past ten years.


The FDA's potential ban on BVO might just be the beginning. They're looking into updating regulations around food additives, aiming to make the process faster and possibly banning any food colouring linked to cancer.

 

While the final decision on BVO is still up in the air and will require a thorough review, it seems like the world won't miss it too much. Alternatives worldwide are already keeping our citrus drinks tasting great.

 

Given the widespread use of BVO and the potential health risks it poses, it serves as a reminder of how important it is to continue evaluating and updating our food safety standards. And hey, if you've got any thoughts or news on issues concerning food safety, or if there's something specific you want us to cover in our future articles, shoot us a message over at dearfoodpeople.com. We'd love to hear from you!

 

 

Further Reading:

  1. ScienceAlert. FDA to Finally Outlaw Soda Ingredient Prohibited Around the World. [Online] Available at: https://www.sciencealert.com/fda-to-finally-outlaw-soda-ingredient-prohibited-around-the-world

  2. Science Times. (2024, March 10). FDA Proposes U.S. Ban on Controversial Citrus Soda Ingredient Decades After Studies Showed Health Risks. [Online] Available at: https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/49151/20240310/fda-proposes-u-s-ban-controversial-citrus-soda-ingredient-decades.htm

  3. Health.com. (2023, November 22). Is Your Soda Safe from a Possible FDA Ban? What to Know About Brominated Vegetable Oil. [Online] Available at: https://www.health.com/fda-soda-ban-brominated-vegetable-oil-8401251

  4. The Washington Post. (2023, November 3). Brominated vegetable oil, found in some citrus sodas, may be banned. [Online] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/11/03/soda-brominated-vegetable-oil-ban/

  5. CBS News. (2024, March 11). FDA proposes banning ingredient found in some citrus-flavoured sodas. [Online] Available at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fda-ban-brominated-vegetable-oil-citrus-flavored-soda/


 

The information provided in our articles is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The content on our website, including articles, is not meant to endorse or promote any specific medical treatments, products, or procedures. The information provided is based on general knowledge and research at the time of writing. Medical practices and knowledge are constantly evolving, and what may have been accurate at the time of publication may not be current or applicable today.

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