The Food and Drug Administration may ban the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food, the agency announced in a statement on Thursday.
The organization “proposed to revoke the regulation authorizing” its use and declared that “the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe,” citing studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found potentially dangerous health effects.
The citrus-boosting additive was previously used in beverages including Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other products and still remains in drinks including Sun Drop and numerous off-brand sodas.
The FDA announced that the toxicology reports have given the administration “conclusive scientific evidence to support [the] proposal to remove the FDA’s food additive authorization for BVO.”
The government agency first noted that the food additive was deemed no longer “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) in 1970 when the agency first began regulating the vegetable oil.
Since then, many food companies have voluntarily reformulated their products to eliminate the use of BVO.
“Health concerns about BVO stem from one of its ingredients, bromine. Bromine can irritate the skin, nose, mouth and stomach,” Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, told the Food Network.
“It’s also been linked to neurologic symptoms in people who drink large quantities of citrus soda — more than 2 liters a day.”
Just last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill prohibiting the sale of food containing four chemicals, including BVO.
The new California law takes effect Jan. 1, 2027, imposing fines of up to $10,000 for violations.
The four ingredients — BVO, potassium bromate, propylparaben and red dye No. 3 — are already banned in the European Union due to research linking them to cancer, reproductive issues and other health problems.
A similar bill is making its way through the New York Legislature: Assembly Bill A6424 would ban the same four chemicals, plus titanium dioxide.
Critics of California’s bill complained that state-by-state regulation would cause confusion for consumers and manufacturers, but the FDA’s recent announcement offers to clarify any national inconsistencies.
The FDA noted the newest bill and shared that the administration is currently “reviewing and reassessing the safety” of all four ingredients recently banned in California, giving special attention to Red No. 3, which several brands have also voluntarily removed from their ingredient lists.
Just Born Quality Confections, the manufacturer of vibrant marshmallow Peeps, announced that candy will no longer contain the dye after Easter 2024.
“We’ve known for years that Red Dye 3 and the other toxic chemicals banned under California’s landmark pose serious risks to our health,” Brian Ronholm, Consumer Reports’ director of food policy, said in a statement, calling the widespread use of the dye in food marketed for children “concerning.”
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