The makers of Gatorade have decided to remove a controversial ingredient in some of their sports drinks after the company said it had received several complaints over its use.
PepsiCo Inc., the maker of the famed sports drink, said that the disputed ingredient - brominated vegetable oil – would be replaced with sucrose acetate isobutyrate. BVO is named after the principal ingredient known as bromine. Bromine is the active ingredient that is found in flame retardant and it is also used on upholstery and clothing such as pajamas.
The questionable ingredient was used in some of the company's products as an emulsifier, which helps to keep flavors of citrus blends mixed in order to prevent the various flavors of the drinks from separating.
Molly Carter, a spokeswoman for the company, explained that the ingredient is not currently banned by U.S. Food and Drug Administration and stated that the decision came about to settle complaints that consumers had submitted to the company. Carter added that the decision was not in response to a petition on Change.org that received national attention.
The creator of the petition was 15-year-old Sarah Kavanagh from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who revealed she was on the Internet searching ingredients in Gatorade when she found an ingredient in her drink also listed as an ingredient in flame retardant.
"The other day, I googled 'brominated vegetable oil.' It was the last time I drank Orange Gatorade. I found out that this 'BVO' is a controversial flame retardant chemical that is in some Gatorade drinks!" Kavanagh wrote in her petition.
Researchers explained that bromine found in BVO poses its own share of health risks. Research has suggested that it can build-up in both the body and breast milk. Studies link that build-up to neurological disorders, reduced fertility, hormonal changes and advanced puberty.
Brominated vegetable oil has also been linked to short term issues such as blurred vision, teariness and vomiting.
"I'm not a scientist, but if there are lots of suspicious things about putting a flame retardant chemical in Gatorade (most flavors don't even use it!) then why would Gatorade want to put it in a product designed for people like me who are into sports and health?" Sarah wrote in the petition.