Why Was Flame Retardant in Gatorade, and Why Is It Still in Mountain Dew?

David Wagner

The AP's Candice Choi reported Friday afternoon that PepsiCo spokeswoman Molly Carter confirmed earlier reports in Beverage Digest claiming that the soft drink company would remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from Gatorade. Carter says PepsiCo uses the controversial ingredient as an emulsifier (a way to spread flavor evenly throughout a drink), and notes that despite complaints about its health effects, the Food and Drug Administration has no laws against it. But online petitions against the use of such ingredients have gained traction in recent years, and Carter says the company has been "hearing rumblings" from consumers. 

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According to its patent, the ingredient can be used as a flame retardant, and the European Union along with countries like Japan have banned it. In December, The New York Times's Stephanie Strom filed a report on the health effects of BVO, finding research that connects the substance with "neurological impairment, reduced fertility, changes in thyroid hormones and puberty at an earlier age." The really scary part is that, according to the AP report, PepsiCo isn't planning to do anything about the BVO in Mountain Dew:

[Carter] said it was used only in select flavors including such as orange and citrus. Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is still used in other drinks, including Coca-Cola's Fanta and PepsiCo's Mountain Dew.

Approximately one in ten drinks sold in the U.S. contain BVO, including Powerade, Squirt, Fresca, and Sunkist Peach Soda. 

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Inset image: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) via Flickr