Beverage makers take out BVO in soft drinks

Which would you like on your soft drinks: brominated vegetable oil (BVO), sucrose acetate isobutyrate, or glycerol ester of wood rosin?

According to this article from the United Soybean Board (USB),  beverage producers including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have announced the removal of BVO in many popular soft drinks because of pressures from consumer advocates complaining that the ingredient was also used in flame-retardant products.

BVO is especially popular to help citrus-flavored soft drinks stay mixed and eliminate the need to shake up a product before consuming it.  After increasing complaints and an online petition that gathered over 200,000 signatures demanding the ingredient be removed, beverage manufacturers began looking for replacements.

This could put a significant dent in the US food industry’s demand for soybean oil. Industry sources estimate that some 800 million pounds of BVO is produced from soybean oil, although BVO is used in other applications and not just as a beverage ingredient.

The European Union and Japan have already banned the use of BVO in beverages and food products, and Coca-Cola recently indicated that BVO will also be removed from its products in Canada and Central America.

Still, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains BVO’s safe rating and says that the continued use of the substance will not harm public health. There is no conclusive scientific research that suggests BVO is the cause of any health risks.

Despite moving away from the unpopular ingredient, soft drink companies also stand by the safety of BVO consumption in their products.

“Activists claim that other ingredients can easily replace BVO, but beverage manufacturers reportedly take issue with that statement. There are other chemical products that are adequately functional, such as sucrose acetate isobutyrate and glycerol ester of wood rosin, but these sound scary on ingredient labels.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


One Response to “Beverage makers take out BVO in soft drinks”

  1. BVO’s had GRAS granted in 1958 then FDA withdrew in 1970. It took social media activism to get big beverage companies to change. There are more options (not just the 2 others) noted in the first paragraph.

    Posted by Rod Cummings | July 21, 2014, 4:43 pm

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