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The FDA Is Finally Proposing Banning Brominated Vegetable Oil

US FDA building

Well, well, well... finally the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally proposing banning a food additive that has long been banned in other countries, including the European Union, Japan, and India. The ingredient is brominated vegetable oil, which was added to many fruit flavored sodas to keep the ingredients from separating.

Brominated vegetable oil has been used as an emulsifying agent since the 1920s. The big name brands of Gatorade, Fresca and Mountain Dew have been slowly phasing it out in the last decade. But smaller brands, such as Sun Drop, still contain the ingredient. California already passed legislation banning the ingredient last month (it'll go into effect in 2027).

Studies find that brominated vegetable oil is toxic to the thyroid, and that it can be harmful to the liver, heart, and cause neurological problems. It builds up in human tissues. By the way, to make  brominated vegetable oil - bromine, an element used in fire retardants, is added to vegetable oil.

In other words, it has been known for years that the additive is harmful, yet the FDA wasn't "convinced" till recently. Yikes!

Excerpts from NPR: The FDA proposes banning a food additive that's been used for a century

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering banning brominated vegetable oil, a food additive that was recently deemed unlawful to use in California because of its potentially harmful effects on human health.

The FDA said Thursday it is considering reversing its approval of brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, in beverages following a recent study in rats that found the ingredient could cause damage to the thyroid.

BVO was first used as a food additive in the 1920s. Today, it is used in some sports drinks and sodas to keep citrus flavoring from separating and floating to the top. Major soda makers announced they were dropping BVO several years ago.

The FDA removed the additive from its generally recognized as safe list in the late 1960s, but decided there was not enough evidence for a ban. Instead, it limited the acceptable amounts of BVO in beverages to 15 parts per million.

Concerns were raised about its effect on the heart in 1970, but were "resolved," the FDA said. A 1976 study of the consumption of brominated sesame and soybean oils by pigs found their hearts, livers, kidneys and testicles had been damaged.

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