PepsiCo announced Friday it would remove brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade products after consumers complained about the ingredient.
Brominated vegetable oil is used in the citrus-flavored versions of Gatorade products to prevent the flavorings from separating. However, studies have suggested that the ingredient may be linked to neurological disorders and altered thyroid hormones.
The petition to eliminate the ingredient from Gatorade was initiated by a 15-year-old girl from Mississippi, Sarah Kavanagh. More than 200,000 people signed the petition on Change.org.
The brominated vegetable oil will be replaced by sucrose acetate isobutyrate, an emulsifier that is "generally recognized as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration. Consumers will start seeing the new ingredient in the upcoming months as existing supplies of Gatorade are sold and replaced.
The new ingredient will be added to orange, citrus cooler and lemonade Gatorade, as well Gatorade X-Factor orange, Gatorade Xtremo citrus cooler and a powdered form of the drink called "glacier freeze."
Brominated vegetable oil is banned as a food ingredient in Japan and the European Union, and about 10 percent of drinks sold in the United States contain it, including Mountain Dew, Fresca, some flavors of Powerade, Squirt and Sunkist Peach soda.
PepsiCo made the change without pressure from the FDA. PepsiCo stated that it had been searching for an alternative for about a year, and only announced the change because of the petition. PepsiCo still believes there are no health or safety risks associated with the brominated vegetable oil.
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Source: The New York Times, "PepsiCo Will Halt Use of Additive in Gatorade," Jan. 25, 2013.