- The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a ban on brominated vegetable oil
- The agency said it was no longer considered safe for human consumption
A toxic food additive used in many soft drinks could be banned under a proposal from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The agency said a study of brominated vegetable oil – used to help flavor citrus fruits – found it was no longer considered safe for human consumption.
Previous studies had linked the additive to neurological problems such as headaches and problems with the nervous system and problems with the thyroid gland – a gland in the chest responsible for regulating metabolism.
Soft drinks that use the additive include Sun Drop, Mountain Lightning sold in Walmart and DG Ginger Beer.
It comes after California passed a law banning the use of this additive – along with three others – by 2027, while New York is also considering similar legislation. The agency said it was reviewing all additives in California law, including red food coloring No. 3, which is used in some candies.
Brominated vegetable oil is used in beverages, including some Sun Drop soft drinks
In its proposal today, the FDA said: ‘Recent toxicology studies conducted in collaboration with the NIH have now provided us with compelling scientific evidence in support of our proposal to revoke the FDA’s approval of food additives for BVO.
‘Although BVO has a long history of use in foods and was once considered ‘generally recognized as safe’, we have continued to study it to understand its potential health effects.’
They added, “The FDA is continually reviewing and reassessing the safety of a variety of chemicals in food to ensure that the science and law support their safe use.”
The agency cited a July 2022 study in rats that found those exposed to the additive for 90 days showed changes in their thyroid glands.
Brominated vegetable oil is currently approved for use in small amounts in beverages to prevent the citrus flavor from separating from the beverage and floating to the top.
The agency stopped recognizing the drug as safe in the 1970s and has since monitored studies of the additive to determine its health effects.
The agency said it is also investigating red dye No. 3 used in medications and some foods that have been linked to allergies, cancer, hyperactivity in children and thyroid problems.
Campaigners today called the move “encouraging” but urged the FDA to take more action.
Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, which has campaigned tirelessly to remove dangerous additives from foods and drinks, said: ‘The evidence is clear that brominated vegetable oil in soft drinks and other drinks poses an unacceptable risk to our health.
‘Toxic additives such as BVO, which have been shown to pose toxic risks to the thyroid and other chronic health problems, should not be allowed in our diets.
“We are encouraged that the FDA has re-examined recent studies documenting the health risks of BVO and is taking action to ban its use.”