The Ingredient Coca-Cola is Finally Dropping From Powerade

By Heather Callaghan

Brominated vegetable oil, aka BVO, a common citrus drink ingredient in the United States, is banned in Japan, India and the European Union. Actually, it’s banned in over 100 countries.

The questionable emulsifier is supposed to keep components of sports drinks and soda pop from separating, but is often called flame retardant for bromine’s industrial uses as a flame retardant, gasoline additive and in pesticides.

Health concerns of anything bromine-related involve heavy-duty thyroid and neurological damage. The Iodine Project lists more. Bromine toxicity is serious. According to one naturopath, the effects of potassium bromate in modern refined breads are not only damaging to the thyroid – but combine that with chlorine in city tap water and you’ve got a weak thyroid that cannot properly uptake the iodine necessary to protect the body against radiation. Back to BVO…

BVO in beverages has been known about for awhile, even earning write-ups from the well-known Dr. Smith – but it was a Change.org petition made by a 15-year-old Mississippi girl that got America’s attention. Especially after she was brought on television by Dr. Oz.

Sarah Kavanaugh is pictured above and amassed over 200,000 signatures which convinced PepsiCo to phase BVO out of Gatorade. We featured the move in our “13 Ways Foodies Are Changing the Food Industry.” Her Powerade petition had over 59,000 signatures and it looks like Coca-Cola might be imitating the Pepsi move.

The argument for the petition was that these drinks exist in other countries, yet the food companies had no issue swapping banned ingredients for alternatives – so why not in the U.S.? Also, the drinks are marketed as healthy (they’ve got electrolytes?) and great for the athletic types.

Did you know that a non-GRAS ingredient can still be used in food?

The FDA withdrew its GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for BVO in 1970, but this did not result in a ban. Instead, a more watchful eye and some restrictions. Incidentally, the FDA did not approve of bromide compounds in OTC drugs after 1975 and the practice fell out of use. While the claim is that BVO is safe in moderation – this ignores the fact that it accumulates in the body as evidenced in finding it in the fat cells of mammals.

The Associated Press just announced that Coca-Cola has dropped BVO from fruit punch and strawberry lemonade Powerades in the eastern and midwest U.S. Some bottles and the website still list it, which suggests a phase-out.

Both corporations have stood by safety claims but are responding to consumer-turnabout, with the exception of Pepsi’s Mountain Dew.
Pulin Modi, senior campaign manager for Change.org said:

Consumers are coming together quickly and efficiently to influence the world’s biggest beverage companies in an unprecedented manner.

And, by consumer influence, the bottom-line fears are implicated. Coca-Cola dominates the soda market but seriously lags in the sports drink department. And, as Americans try to cut back on soda pop, this could mean a major dollar loss if Coca-Cola doesn’t listen to legitimate consumer concerns.

So, what do you think of the substitutes for BVO: sucrose acetate isobutyrate and glycerol ester of wood rosin?

To be quite honest, I don’t know either way if those ingredients make a good substitute or not, despite the fact that the former bromide components are definitely a bad idea!

When I absolutely need my carbonated drink-fix I either pay a little more for some alternatives like Mountain Zevia or I make my own using antioxidant-rich concentrates like cherry and blueberry. Sometimes a little lemon or lime juice in sparkling water can really do the trick.

Plus, it’s got electrolytes.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.


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