Sarah Kavanaugh, a 15-year-old Mississippi high school student, is making headlines with a petition she began that calls on PepsiCo. to stop using brominated vegetable oil in its Gatorade brand of sports drinks.
Known as BVO, brominated vegetable oil is used to suspend citric oils in prepared beverages. PepsiCo responded in a statement, We take consumer safety and product integrity seriously, and we can assure that Gatorade is safe. Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark from the University of Chicago s Pritzker School of Medicine, however, was not so certain, referring to the substance as an endocrine disruptor and asserting that bromine does bind to fat in the body and stay there, and expressed yet another concern about people ingesting excessive quantities of soda.
Nearly all the media coverage of the subject describes the chemical as a flame retardant, based merely on the fact that it contains bromine. Which is ironic, says ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom, because brominated vegetable oil actually can burn.
The FDA deems BVO as safe in fruit-flavored beverages in amounts not to exceed 5 parts per million. The petition at Change.org asking PepsiCo. to reformulate its products and remove BVO has raked in over 180,000 signatures.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava noted that Gatorade has been safely ingested by millions of professional and amateur athletes and many non-athletes for over 40 years with no evidence of harm.