Coca-Cola Yanks Controversial Ingredient

Company phases out brominated vegetable oil in Powerade

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted May 4, 2014 3:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Looks like a teenager's online petition has induced Coca-Cola to remove an ingredient from Powerade. The Mississippi teen, Sarah Kavanagh, led the charge with two Change.org petitions against brominated vegetable oil—one targeting Powerade, the other Gatorade—that gathered nearly 260,000 supporters in all, the AP reports. PepsiCo agreed to pull BVO from Gatorade last year, and now Powerade bottles in strawberry lemonade and fruit punch flavors in several cities don't have the ingredient listed.

Some bottles still list it, and Coca-Cola said today that Powerade is "BVO-free," so it seems the company is phasing it out. Just what is BVO? According to the FDA, it's used in fruit-flavored drinks as a stabilizer for flavoring oils. But Bromine is a patented flame retardant that's banned in the European Union and Japan, and may be harmful to anyone who drinks it in large amounts, the Telegram reports. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo aren't the only companies under pressure from petitions: Subway yanked an FDA-approved ingredient known as the "yoga mat chemical" from its breads earlier this year when a petitioner at FoodBabe.com challenged the company's healthy-food image.

In this Aug. 5, 2010 file photo, bottles of Powerade sports drink and other Coca-Cola products are chilled over ice in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)
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