Coca-Cola Drops Controversial Ingredient From Powerade

Sarah Kavanagh

Sarah Kavanagh

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) and one of its chief critics are back in the news, with The Coca-Cola Co. announcing that it will remove the beverage emulsifier from its line of Powerade sports drinks, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The decision was prompted by Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager from Hattiesburg, Miss., who organized a popular online petition two years ago that urged PepsiCo to remove BVO from its Gatorade products, citing the ingredient’s link to flame retardant chemicals. PepsiCo later announced that it would remove BVO from Gatorade, however, the company denies that its decision was tied to the petition.

Kavanagh recently introduced a similar petition targeting Coke’s Powerade products. At press time, the petition has secured more than 59,000 signatures.

The ingredient is also used in popular soda products, including Mountain Dew and Fresca, to evenly distribute flavors in the beverages. However, according to Scientific American, BVO has been patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant and has been banned throughout Europe and Japan. The publication found that heavy soda binges have led to a number of symptoms that originate from an overexposure to bromine, such as skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, among other potential side effects.

While some Powerade bottles still list the ingredient, suggesting a gradual phase-out, the AP reports that bottles of Powerade Fruit Punch and Strawberry Lemonade sold in Detriot, Omaha, Neb., New York and Washington no longer list the ingredient.

Another place that will no longer list the ingredient: Kavanagh’s school.