FDA proposes ban on ingredient in some soft drinks over potential health risks

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed banning an ingredient used in some fruit-flavored beverages after results from toxicological tests led the agency to say there is “no longer a basis to conclude” its use is safe.

Brominated Vegetable Oil, or BVO, is currently authorized by the FDA to be used in small amounts — not to exceed 15 parts per million — as a stabilizer for fruit flavoring in beverages.

Even though the FDA removed BVO from the list of “substances generally recognized as safe” in 1970, the ingredient is still allowed in small quantities, as the agency began regulating it as a food additive “while additional safety studies were conducted”

BVO is not permitted for use in food and beverages in other markets, including the European Union, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

In the U.S., the ingredient was once used in beverages from brands like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, such as Mountain Dew and Gatorade. While most major soda companies have since switched to “safe and authorized substitutes,” the product can still be found in Sun Drop and other generic fruit-flavored sodas.

Last year, the FDA published a study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology about “potential health effects” related to the consumption of BVO in rodents. Findings suggested that BVO increased the possibility of thyroid dysfunction in rats.

On Thursday, the agency proposed to revoke the regulation authorizing the use of BVO in foods.

“Based on these data and remaining unresolved safety questions, the FDA can no longer conclude that the use of BVO in food is safe,” the agency said.

Members of the public have until Jan. 17 to send the FDA any comments on the proposed rule.