Coca-Cola announced that it will stop using brominated vegetable oil, an ingredient that is a patented flame retardant for plastics, in its Powerade sports drink.
The ingredient has been banned for use in Europe and Japan, but it shows up on ingredient lists in the U.S., primarily in citrus-flavored soft drinks. According to the Food and Drug Administration, brominated vegetable oil can be used safely if "used on an interim basis as a stabilizer for flavoring oils used in fruit-flavored beverages...."
"Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is used in some of our beverages to improve the stability of our products, preventing certain ingredients from separating," Coca-Cola said in a statement. "All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been -- and comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold."
Brominated vegetable oil is still listed as an ingredient in some of the flavors on the Powerade website, but the company said it will transition to using sucrose acetate isobutyrate and/or glycerol ester of rosin in the coming months. According to the statement, glycerol ester of rosin is commonly found in chewing gum and beverages.
In the U.S., Powerade fruit punch and strawberry lemonade bottle drinks have already transitioned to the new ingredient. The company expects the transition of all its Powerade flavors to take place in the U.S. by the end of the year.
Sarah Kavanagh, a Mississippi teenager, shined a spotlight on brominated vegetable oil when she started a petition on Change.org asking PepsiCo to remove the ingredient from its Gatorade drinks. The petition reached more than 50,000 last November.