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Consumer Reports praises FDA’s proposed ban of brominated vegetable oil in food

BVO is used in citrus-flavored beverages and has been linked to serious health problems

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An ingredient found in some citrus-flavored beverages that has been linked to a number of serious health problems would be banned under a proposal announced today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Consumer Reports applauded the FDA for its proposed ban of brominated vegetable oil (BVO), which is found in a number of sports drinks and sodas.

“The evidence is clear that brominated vegetable oil in sodas and other beverages poses an unacceptable risk to our health,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “Toxic additives like BVO that have been shown to pose toxic risks to the thyroid and other chronic health problems should not be allowed in our food. We’re encouraged that the FDA has re-examined recent studies documenting the health risks posed by BVO and is taking action to prohibit its use.”

Brominated vegetable oil is used in beverages as an emulsifier – a substance that helps blend liquids that don’t otherwise blend easily, such as oil and water. According to the FDA, it keeps citrus flavorings from separating and floating to the top of the beverage.  It is used in about 90 sodas and beverages, most of them vibrantly colored and citrus-flavored, according to a database maintained by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Peer reviewed studies conducted on rodents have linked BVO to neurological problems, thyroid, heart and liver problems; and behavioral, developmental, and reproductive issues.

BVO is already banned by the European Union and is one of four food chemicals covered under a California bill recently signed into law that also prohibits the use of Red Dye 3, potassium bromate, and propyl paraben in food produced and sold in the state beginning in 2027.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org