Score another one for concerned consumers! PepsiCo, the makers of Gatorade, have announced that they will be replacing the brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in their citrus Gatorade drinks with sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB.)
BVO, and its use as an emulsifier in many big brand sports drinks and sodas, was brought to the attention of the U. S. media last December when fifteen year old Sarah Kavanagh of Mississippi noticed it on the label of her Gatorade and Googled it out of curiosity. She found that BVO had already been banned across the European Union (EU), Japan, and India due to studies showing links between BVO several serious health issues including neurological impairment, thyroid dysfunction, early onset puberty, reduced fertility, and possible heart lesions. After reading up on the ingredient, Kavanagh started an online petition to convince PepsiCo to remove the ingredient from their products.
Used in food products since the 1930s, BVO was generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) After research showed possible health issues linked to prolonged consumption, the FDA removed it from the GRAS list in 1970. The agency ultimately landed on an interim decision that BVO was allowable in U. S. food products in amounts less than 15 parts per million (ppm), but needed further evaluation via animal and human studies. Although many such studies have been conducted over the past 40 years, the FDA has never revisited the issue of regulation. Thus, the "interim" decision remains unchanged to this day, and is the reason that BVO continues to be allowed in foods and beverages in the United States.
Sucrose acetate isobutyrate appears to be a safer choice than BVO. SAIB was privately evaluated and officially accepted as GRAS for use as an emulsifier in beverages by the FDA in 1999 at a level of no more than 300 mg/kg of the finished beverage. Although some research has linked high level consumption of SAID to liver issues in dogs, other animal and human studies have not supported such a link.
At the end of January, PepsiCo acquiesced: they have decided to remove the BVO in favor of using SAIB, a change they had already made in the EU and in Japan. However, they will continue to use BVO in their Mountain Dew products in the U. S. Coca-cola and Dr. Pepper/Snapple have not yet announced any plans to make the switch to SAIB in their BVO-containing products: Squirt, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Powerade Strawberry Lemonade, and Fresca Original Citrus.
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December 12, 2013. Web. Code of Federal Regulations. 21CFR172.833: Sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB.)
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