Have you ever noticed that a can of soda or a sports drink contains the ingredient Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) listed on the label? Recently, PepsiCo Inc. announced it would stop putting BVO in Gatorade, but the product is still in many drinks, like Mountain Dew.
We contacted Dr. Keith Schneider, Associate Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Florida, to find out a bit more about BVO.
Dr. Keith Schneider
What is BVO?
Dr. Schneider: "Brominated Vegetable Oil is used as a clouding agent in certain drinks (giving a them a cloudy appearance)."
Is it safe to consume products that contain BVO?
Dr. Schneider: "There have been several isolated cases of people who consume large volumes of beverages containing BVO (e.g., two liters a day) having adverse reactions to the bromine (such as neurological impairment, reduced fertility, and/or changes in thyroid), but I'm a bigger picture person; I think you have a more serious threat from the caloric intake (e.g., sugar diabetes connection) than health effects with BVO.
"Honestly, and it’s probably not what you want to hear, but more people die from high salt intake, high caloric intake (obesity/heart disease), cigarettes and alcohol. More people are allergic to peanuts than BVO, and no one is trying to ban peanuts, at least not yet."
Is it used as a flame retardant?
Dr. Schneider: "As for the flame retardant use, I think it is registered as such, but then again so is water."
How can you tell if there's BVO in your food or drink?
Dr. Schneider: "Simply look at the label."
What should we ask our experts about?