Gatorade-maker Pepsi will stop using brominated vegetable oil to make the sports drink in response to consumer concerns, the company announced today.
The controversial ingredient is banned in Japan and the European Union and is marketed as a flame retardant elsewhere, The Associated Press said.
Company spokeswoman Molly Carter said PepsiCo started “hearing rumblings” a year ago about BVO.
The decision didn’t come in reaction to a petition started by Sarah Kavanagh of Hattiesburg, Miss., at Change.org.
More than 200,000 people have signed the petition asking Pepsi to stop using BVO through a petition called “Gatorade: Don’t put flame retardant chemicals in sports drinks.”
BVO is an emulsifier used to distribute flavor throughout a beverage.
On its website, Pepsi says it uses very little BVO in some flavors of Gatorade.
“Brominated vegetable oil, also known as BVO, is widely used by beverage makers to help keep flavoring oils well-blended,” the site says. “Since oil does not mix well with water, emulsifiers help dissolve and keep the flavor oils evenly distributed throughout the beverage.”
Scientific American reported that soda makers use BVO in about 10 percent of their products.
Research points to mass consumption leading to possible side effects such as skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders. Others point to reproductive issues and behavioral problems.
Scientists say that while BVO isn’t banned in the United States, acceptable limits are based on “scarce” scientific data.