Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO), a common ingredient in many soft drinks and beverages, might not raise an eyebrow for most consumers. We often take the safety of our food and drinks for granted without scrutinizing what's listed on the label. Though BVO may be prevalent, research indicates there may be reason for concern.
What is Brominated Vegetable Oil?
BVO originates from soybean or corn oil. It serves the purpose of suspending fruit flavoring in drinks and preventing them from separating, hence its frequent use in citrus-flavored and other fruit-flavored beverages. You're more likely to find it lurking in off-brand products, including store-brand products and lesser-known, smaller brands, as a cost-saving measure. However, BVO has also managed to infiltrate products from some larger companies, including Keurig, Dr Pepper, Sun Drop, Orangette, and Great Value Fruit Punch.
BVO: A Global Concern
The concerns over BVO's potential dangers have led authorities in specific regions to enforce stricter regulations. Both Europe and Japan have responded to these health concerns by banning its inclusion in drinks. This disparity in regulatory oversight, however, brings to light issues within global food safety standards.
Potential Dangers of BVO
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. presently categorizes BVO as "generally recognized as safe," there's a body of research that suggests otherwise.Impact on Physical Health:
Extensive bromine exposure could lead to Bromism, an unusual and potentially fatal condition causing symptoms such as skin breakouts, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Long-term consumption may also lead to reproductive and behavioral problems.Bioaccumulation:
BVO has a tendency to build up in human tissues, notably in fatty tissues. This bioaccumulation could trigger various health problems, including neurological disorders and altered thyroid hormones.Potential Carcinogen:
One of the primary worries is the potential for BVO to act as a carcinogen. Some animal studies have suggested a potential link between high levels of bromine and cancer, but further research is necessary to understand the risks in humans.What Is The FDA Doing To Address BVO Concerns?
While the FDA originally considered BVO as "generally recognized as safe", this designation was removed in 1970 due to health concerns. Shortly after, at the manufacturers' request, the FDA once again allowed its usage on an "interim basis" in limited quantities.
Decades ago, the FDA committed to a safety review of BVO but only recently announced that revoking the usage of BVO is on the agency’s agenda. However, an interesting fact about the FDA is that only one in five FDA proposals on its agenda of upcoming actions ever come to fruition.
This means, even though it's on the FDA's dockets, the probability of definitive action regarding BVO is uncertain.How to Shield Yourself from BVO
Considering the potential dangers and the regulatory flip-flop around BVO, our best defense is to become informed consumers. By reading ingredient labels diligently, you can spot and avoid drinks containing BVO.
For safer alternatives, consider switching to natural drinks like water, tea, or freshly squeezed fruit juice. Not only are they devoid of harmful additives like BVO, but they also offer numerous health benefits.
Remember, when it comes to what you consume, stay informed, and make choices that prioritize your health.