Petition Calls for Gatorade to End Use of Controversial Ingredient

An new online petition is calling for PepsiCo to stop formulating its Gatorade line of sports drinks with an ingredient tied to flame retardant chemicals, according to The New York Times.

The petition was launched by Sarah Kavanagh, a Mississippi teenager, who found that Gatorade’s flagship line of beverages contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO). Beverage formulators use BVO in many citrus drinks as a way to keep fruit flavors evenly distributed, and the ingredient is found in approximately 10 percent of all beverages sold in the U.S.

However, BVO contains bromine, a chemical element often used in commercial flame retardants, and one that some studies have linked to a number of health-related ailments, including neurological disorder and fertility problems.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed BVO from its list of “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) substances in 1970, the agency made an interim ruling about the ingredient in 1977 and determined that “the totality of evidence supported the safe use of B.V.O. in fruit-flavored beverages up to 15 parts per million.”

The FDA’s decision on BVO was to be a temporary one, pending more studies, but has not been altered in over 35 years. FDA spokewoman Patricia El-Hinnawy told the Times that, “any change in the interim status of BVO would require an expenditure of FDA’s limited resources, which is not a public health protection priority for the agency at this time.”

Despite the lack of new research on the effects of human consumption of BVO,a PepsiCo spokesman stated that federal regulators have judged the ingredient to be safe.

“As standard practice, we constantly evaluate our formulas and ingredients to ensure they comply with federal regulations and meet the high quality standards our consumers and athletes expect — from functionality to great taste,” PepsiCo spokesman Jeff Dahncke, wrote in an e-mail to the Times.

At press time, Kavanagh’s petition has gained nearly 197,000 signatures.