FDA bans BVO: Here’s which beverages contain the food additive

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it is revoking a regulation allowing the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food. 

BVO is a vegetable oil that is modified with bromine. According to the FDA, BVO’s intended use in food is "no longer considered safe" after the results of previous studies conducted that found the potential for adverse health effects in humans.

The agency has regulated BVO as a food additive since it removed the product from the codified list of Generally Recognized As Safe or "GRAS" substances in 1970. As authorized, it was used in small amounts to keep citrus flavoring from floating to the top in some beverages, and manufacturers were required to list BVO, or the specific brominated vegetable oil such as brominated soybean oil, in the ingredients list if it was used. 

BVO is not allowed as a food additive in Japan or Europe.

"The FDA is taking this action as part of our regulatory authority over ingredients added to food, which includes reassessing previously evaluated food ingredients and addressing safety concerns," the agency said on July 2. "Reassessing the safety of food ingredients as new, relevant data become available, is a priority for the FDA and a key part of our food safety mission." 

Drinks that contain BVO

Despite this new ruling, few beverages in the U.S. currently contain BVO.

FILE: Orange soda (Credit: Food and Drug Administration)

In 2013, PepsiCo announced that it would remove BVO from Gatorade products. Then, in 2014, Coca-Cola announced removal of BVO from all products, including Powerade and Fanta products.

Currently, beverages made in the U.S. containing BVO include: 

  • Sun Drop, made by Keurig Dr Pepper
  • Orangette orange soda, sold at Walmart

BVO is most commonly found in citrus-flavored drinks. Experts recommend checking the ingredient label if you’re uncertain whether a beverage contains the additive.

When will BVO be banned?

The rule becomes effective on August 2. The compliance date for this rule is one year after the effective date to allow companies to reformulate, relabel, and deplete the inventory of BVO-containing products before the FDA begins enforcing the final rule.

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This story was reported from Los Angeles.