ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

Sponsored By: Two Men and a Truck
cloudy-day
80°
Mostly Cloudy
H 79° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    80°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 79° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    90°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 79° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 95° L 79°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Health
Brominated vegetable oil Q&A
Close

Brominated vegetable oil Q&A

Brominated vegetable oil Q&A
Photo Credit: flickr.com
In January 2013, PepsiCo announced it would remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its Gatorade drinks in response to customer concerns.

Brominated vegetable oil Q&A

PepsiCo recently announced it would remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its Gatorade drinks in response to customer concerns.  

Just what is BVO? And what is it doing in your sports drink?

To learn more, we reached out to food chemists Kantha Shelke, PhD, a Chicago scientist who consults with food companies to develop new products, and Walter Vetter, PhD, who is studying BVO at the University of Hohenheim in Germany.

What is BVO?

Brominated vegetable oil is a synthetic chemical that is created when vegetable oil is bonded to the element bromine. Bromine is heavy, and it keeps the oil from floating to the top of water-based solutions, like soft drinks.

Why is BVO in some kinds of drinks?

Citrus flavors -- orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit -- are oily. “When you put them on a soda or in a beverage, they tend to sit on top of the drink. They are not dispersed all the way through,” Shelke says. BVO acts as an emulsifier, meaning it helps the citrus flavors mix better in the soft drink. Drinks that contain BVO usually look hazy or cloudy.

Why are there concerns about BVO?

In very high amounts drunk over a long period of time, BVO can build up in the body and cause toxic effects.

In 1997, doctors were stumped by the case of a man who came to the emergency room with headaches, fatigue, and a loss of muscle coordination and memory. He continued to get worse over time, and eventually he lost the ability to walk. A blood test found sky-high levels of bromide. The source? The man had been drinking between 2 and 4 liters of soda containing brominated vegetable oil every day. He needed dialysis but eventually recovered.

In 2003, doctors treated a man who developed swollen hands with oozing sores. They diagnosed a rare case of the skin condition bromoderma after blood tests revealed his bromine was about twice normal limits. The man admitted drinking about 8 liters of Ruby Red Squirt, which contains BVO, each day.

High amounts of bromine can also cause skin breakouts known as halogen acne.

What about lower levels?

It’s not known whether BVO might pose health concerns at the low levels most people take in, Vetter says.

But he and others think the food additive needs further study.

That’s because it’s in the same chemical family as flame-retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).

Scientists are studying brominated flame retardants because blood tests show that these chemicals can build up in our bodies. Early studies suggest that flame-retardant chemicals disrupt normal hormone function, leading to problems with brain development in children, fertility, thyroid function, and possibly cancer.

In a 2012 study, Vetter found that in the U.S., BVO intake dwarfs the level of our exposure to other similar chemicals.  Adults take in 4,000 times more BVO than PBDEs on average, for example, while kids get about 1,000 times more.

Is BVO FDA-approved?

In 1958, the FDA said BVO was generally safe to use, but it changed its mind in the 1970s, giving BVO "interim" status. Interim status means beverage manufacturers can use it in limited amounts pending the outcome of further studies. Those studies have never been done, leaving the ingredient in limbo for more than 30 years.

It’s allowed to be used at a level not to exceed 15 parts per million.

“It’s used in much lower amounts, about 8 parts per million,” Shelke says, “However, this rule was made at a time when sodas were a treat, in the 1950s, and not part of the daily diet.”

“So the rules were absolutely relevant then,” she says. “But today, the way consumers drink sodas today is very different.” And she thinks the rules may need to be revisited.

Other countries are playing it safer. BVO is banned as a food additive in Japan, India, and the European Union.

What products contain BVO?

BVO is in some citrus soft drinks including Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fresca, and Fanta. It’s also in sports drinks like Powerade and some pre-mixed cocktails.

Following recent news articles and an online petition, PepsiCo said it would remove BVO from Gatorade.

“While our products are safe, we are making this change because we know that some consumers have a negative perception of BVO in Gatorade,” says Pepsi in an emailed statement to WebMD.

They expect to have the reformulated product on store shelves in a few months.

It’s still unclear whether they will remove BVO from their other products, like Mountain Dew.

Other beverage companies have not followed suit.

SOURCES: Bendig, P. Food Chemistry, accepted manuscript, Jan. 19, 2013.Kantha Shelke, PhD, founder, Chief Scientific Officer, Corvus Blue; spokesperson, Institute of Food Technologists, Chicago, Ill.Walter Vetter, PhD, professor, Institute of Food Chemistry, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • A huge section of the South Pacific Ocean, 1.5 times the size of Texas, is covered in tiny pieces of plastic smaller than grains of rice. >> Read more trending news A team of scientists, led by Algalita Marine Research and Education scientist Charles Moore, made the discovery during a six month expedition to the remote area.  Unlike the more well-known garbage gyre in the North Pacific, scientists had not studied the more remote areas in the South Pacific.   “We discovered tremendous quantities of plastic,” Moore said, in an area possibly “as large as 965,000 square miles.” “My initial impression is that our samples compared to what we were seeing in the North Pacific in 2007, so it’s about ten years behind,” he said. Utrecht University oceanographer Erik van Sebille has started a project to track the plastic and how it’s distributed in the oceans. Once the plastic particles get caught up in the ocean currents, or gyres, it’s almost impossible to clean up, according to van Sebille, who said the best hope is to prevent the pollution in the first place. >> Related: Can this plastic-eating bug save the planet? “Gone are the silly notions that you can put nets in the ocean and solve the problem,” Erikson told ResearchGate. “This cloud of microplastics extends both vertically and horizontally. It’s more like smog than a patch. We’re making tremendous progress to clean up smog over our cities by stopping the source. We have to do the same for our seas.”
  • The strong storms that moved through Northeast Florida Thursday did, in fact, bring a tornado with them. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says an EF-0 tornado touched down on the Huguenot Memorial Park beach at 1:38PM, with estimated peak wind of 65 miles-per-hour. The tornado was down for 0.1 miles, and the path was 40 yards wide. We’re told a line of strong thunderstorms that moved through the area caused minor straight line wind damage at Naval Station Mayport. Circulation then formed over the mouth of the St. Johns River and touched down briefly as a weak tornado. Initial assessment shows a lifeguard truck was damaged by the tornado, but is still operational. A lifeguard tower was also damaged, and debris was scattered across the beach.  The straight line wind damage in the area from this storm caused some damage to a golf course, toppled a tractor trailer, and caused damage to a roof and cars from construction debris, according to the initial assessments. Our partner Action News Jax also located a home in the Mayport area that was hit when a tree fell. Nobody was injured during the storm.
  • In an overwhelming vote of 98-2, the U.S. Senate on Thursday sent President Donald Trump a bipartisan bill that places new economic sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, as members of both parties joined to send a message not only to those three regimes, but also the the White House, on the subject of U.S.-Russian relations and the 2016 campaign. “We will not tolerate attacks on our democracy. That’s what this bill is all about,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) declared on the Senate floor, as Senators in both parties directly linked Russian interference in last year’s elections to this legislative effort. “This bill will prevent President Trump from relaxing sanctions on Russia without Congressional review,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “We’re all concerned about that.” “Today’s legislation will help us more forcefully defend our interests and hold these destabilizing regimes accountable,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). “This measure makes clear that Iran, North Korea and Russia will always be held accountable for their malicious actions,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). US senate has passed a sweeping new Russia sanctions bill by a vote of 98-2. Now headed to Trump for signature or veto — Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) July 27, 2017 But because of the provisions that limit the President’s authority on sanctions against Russia, the White House has been reluctant to endorse the effort, as hours before the vote, officials were still refusing to say whether President Trump would veto this bill. “We continue to support strong sanctions against those three countries. And we are going to wait and see what that final of legislation and make a decision at that point,” said spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But the Senate vote of 98-2, and the House vote of 419-3, showed a Congress that was almost united in support of the plan, suggesting there would be more than enough votes to override a veto by Mr. Trump. Just voted for Russia sanctions. @POTUS needs to sign our bill now and show Russia that meddling in our elections has serious consequences. — Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) July 27, 2017 “President Trump should sign this bill as soon as it hits his desk,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). “Otherwise, he risks encouraging Russia’s interference in future elections.” From the outset, Mr. Trump has advocated a less confrontational approach with Russia, one that has been repeatedly rejected by members of both parties – and this bill was one more piece of evidence on that front. “This bipartisan bill is about keeping America safe, and I urge the president to sign it into law,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • Officials in California shut down Fire Ball rides at a trio of state fairs and attractions after a similar ride in Ohio malfunctioned Wednesday, killing one man and injuring several others. >> Read more trending news The swinging, spinning Fire Ball amusement park ride malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus on Wednesday, the opening day of the fair. Dramatic video captured by a bystander shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off, throwing riders to the ground. The cause of the malfunction is under investigation. The accident prompted officials to close similar rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the California State Fair in Sacramento and the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, KSBW reported. A spokesperson for the popular Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk told KRON that its Fire Ball ride was closed Wednesday in light of the accident. It was expected to reopen Thursday, after officials are able to thoroughly inspect the ride, KSBW reported. “We inspect the rides daily,” Boardwalk community affairs director Kris Reyes told KSBW. “The Fire Ball was inspected Wednesday morning and passed.” Barry Schailble, an inspector with the company hired by the California State Fair, told KCRA that officials “shut down the ride immediately, unloaded it and it’s closed right now.” On its website, Amusements of America said that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball, which was manufactured by KMG, had become 'one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway.' The company's description of the ride said it swings riders 40 feet above the midway, while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A 39-year-old Utah woman was killed by her husband aboard a Princess Cruise ship Tuesday night because, he told authorities, she wouldn’t stop laughing at him, according to the FBI. >> Read more trending news An FBI spokeswoman said Thursday that authorities arrested a man in the case after the ship was diverted to Juneau, Alaska. He was identified by The Associated Press as Kenneth Manzanares. Authorities said the woman, who was identified only as K.M., was killed during a loud domestic dispute on the Emerald Princess around 9 p.m. Tuesday, while the ship was traveling the waters off Alaska, The Associated Press reported. “Court documents say a man entered the cabin and saw the woman on the floor covered in blood,” according to the news wire. “Records say Manzanares grabbed his wife’s body and dragged her to the balcony before the witness stopped him.” A passenger on the ship told KTVA that he heard “two or three ladies or girls, definitely women, screaming” on the night of the incident.  He told the news station that his wife looked over their room balcony and saw a man “bruised, cut and covered in blood.” The ship left on Sunday from Seattle, carrying 3,400 passengers on a week-long trip.  The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

The Latest News Videos