Gatorade To Remove Controversial Ingredient
In response to increasing consumer complaints, PepsiCo recently announced that it will remove brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, from citrus-flavored Gatorade. The emulsifier is used to improve the stability of products by preventing ingredients from separating.
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The problem? BVO is also a potentially-toxic flame retardant used in 10 percent of soda products. Health conditions linked to BVO include heart damage, skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders.
Mississippi teenager launched an online petition in November that drew widespread media attention, but the company said the reformulation project was sparked by earlier customer complaints.
Some countries do not allow the use of brominated vegetable oil in food. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s last review of the chemical, conducted in the 1970s, called for more toxicological testing that was never performed.
“While our products are safe, we are making this change because we know that some consumers have a negative perception of BVO in Gatorade, despite being permitted for use in North American and Latin American countries,” Gatorade spokeswoman Molly Carter said in a statement. “As part of this process, we began working on an alternative ingredient to BVO for the few Gatorade flavors that contain BVO more than a year ago.”
BVO will be replaced with sucrose acetate isobutyrate, a flavor emulsifiers used internationally.
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Carter said the company needed a year to make sure the new formulation “would not affect taste or functionality. So we did a lot of sensory testing to make sure we had the right batch and we feel strongly we do.”
The newly formulated drinks is expected to be on shelves over the next few months.
Carter said there is no current plan to remove BVO from PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew but the company is always evaluating “formulas to ensure they meet the high standards our consumers expect.”
Change.org said consumer petitions to change Gatorade’s formula attracted more than 200,000 supporters and was one of its most popular.
“It’s a great example of the shift in power we’re seeing between businesses and their customers,” said Pulin Modi, senior campaigner at Change.org. “Companies like Gatorade can no longer sit back as thousands of consumers are asking for a change — they’re compelled to do something about it.”