Coca-Cola has now eliminated a controversial ingredient from its line of popular Powerade sports drinks.
According to an Associated Press report, some Powerade flavors sold in at least three states and Washington, D.C. no longer list brominated vegetable oil as an ingredient. A Coca-Cola spokesperson told the AP that Powerade is "BVO-free," but provided no further details of the change. Bottles of Powerade can still be found on store shelves containing brominated vegetable oil, suggesting that the switch has occurred only recently.
Brominated vegetable oil is an emulsifier commonly used in soft drinks, particularly those with citrus flavoring. In addition to Powerade, Fanta Orange, Fresca, Mountain Dew, and other sodas include the ingredient.
Brominated vegetable oil was generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration until 1970. Since that time, the use of the ingredient has been heavily restricted in the U.S. Use of the ingredient as a food additive is limited to just 15 parts per million. The ingredient is banned for use in food in the European Union and in Japan, where brominated vegetable oil use was banned in 2010.
The news of Coca-Cola dropping brominated vegetable oil from Powerade comes just over one year after the company's main competitor did the same for its sports drink. In January 2013 PepsiCo announced that it was eliminating brominated vegetable oil from its citrus-flavored Gatorade sports drinks. PepsiCo still includes the ingredient in its Mountain Dew soft drink.
The move for companies to voluntarily eliminate brominated vegetable oil from their sugary drinks is a relatively new one. Attention was brought to the issue through a popular Change.org petition started by a young woman from Mississippi. The petition points out that brominated vegetable oil has been patented as a flame retardant by some chemical companies and questions why the ingredient is still used in U.S. sports drinks when other countries obviously receive versions of the same drinks without it.
Image via Coca-Cola