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FDA Bans Brominated Vegetable Oil in Food Due to Health Concerns

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FDA Bans Brominated Vegetable Oil in Food Due to Health Concerns

On July 2, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a ban on using brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food. This decision follows extensive research indicating potential health risks associated with BVO, an additive previously used to stabilize citrus flavors in various beverages.

What is Brominated Vegetable Oil?

Brominated vegetable oil is modified with bromine, a toxic chemical. BVO has been used in small amounts (up to 15 parts per million) to prevent the separation of citrus flavoring in drinks like sodas. This additive has been under scrutiny for its potential adverse health effects, leading to its ban in several regions, including Europe and Japan.

Health Concerns and Studies

Health concerns about BVO have been present for over 50 years, but research on its effects has been limited. Studies suggest that BVO can harm the thyroid, liver, and heart and cause neurological issues. Excessive consumption of BVO may lead to bromine toxicity, characterized by symptoms like headaches, nausea, memory loss, and poor coordination.

FDA Bans Brominated Vegetable Oil in Food Due to Health Concerns



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In a 2022 study, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that rodents exposed to BVO showed increased bromine levels in their tissues and changes in thyroid hormone levels. These findings raised significant safety concerns, prompting the FDA to reassess and eventually revoke the authorization for BVO's use in food.

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Regulatory Actions and Timeline

The FDA initially removed BVO from its “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) list in 1970, but it allowed its use under strict regulations. However, with the latest findings, the FDA concluded that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer safe.

The ban on BVO will take effect on August 2, 2024. Food manufacturers have until then to reformulate and relabel their products to comply with the new regulation.

Impact on the Food and Beverage Industry

Public advocacy has led major soda brands to phase out BVO from their products over the past decade. Brands like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola announced the removal of BVO from their beverages in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Despite this, over 600 products in the U.S. may still contain BVO, particularly generic and off-brand sodas.

BVO drinks can be identified by checking the ingredient list for terms like “brominated vegetable oil” or “brominated soybean oil.” Consumers are advised to be cautious, especially with citrus-flavored and cloudy-looking beverages.

The FDA's ban on BVO marks a significant step in ensuring food safety and protecting public health. The agency continues to monitor and reassess the safety of food additives based on emerging scientific evidence. As the compliance date approaches, consumers and manufacturers must stay informed and adapt to these regulatory changes to maintain food safety standards.

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For further information, consumers can refer to the FDA's updates and resources on food chemicals.

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