The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced a proposal to prohibit the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in the United States following concerns about potential adverse health effects associated with its consumption.
The Current Regulations
This proposal, unveiled on Thursday, would effectively nullify the current regulation that permits the use of Brominated Vegetable Oil in food and beverages. BVO, a vegetable oil modified with bromine, has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration in limited amounts to prevent the separation of citrus flavoring in certain drinks. However, recent FDA research has prompted a significant shift in the safety classification of Brominated Vegetable Oil.
The findings from these studies have uncovered that the accumulation of bromine in the body can have adverse effects on the thyroid, a vital gland responsible for producing hormones that play a crucial role in regulating blood pressure, body temperature, metabolism, and the body’s response to other hormones.
Furthermore, Brominated Vegetable Oil has been associated with various adverse effects, including irritation of the skin and mucous membranes, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, and memory problems.
In light of these findings, the FDA now deems the continued use of BVO in food as unsafe, marking a departure from its previous designation as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) in the 1970s.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement, saying, “The proposed action is an example of how the agency monitors emerging evidence and, as needed, conducts scientific research to investigate safety-related questions, and takes regulatory action when the science does not support the continued safe use of additives in foods.”
Other Manufacturers and BVO
Numerous beverage manufacturers have already reformed their product formulations by opting for alternative ingredients to replace BVO. For instance, PepsiCo removed this additive from its citrus-flavored Gatorade in 2013 due to concerns about consumers’ negative perceptions of the product.
California has also taken steps to ban Brominated Vegetable Oil and three other food ingredients within its borders, including red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, and propylparaben.
The Food and Drug Administration emphasized its commitment to continually assess the safety of various chemicals in food to align with the latest scientific knowledge and legal requirements, including recent legislation in California. The agency is also in the process of reviewing regulations related to the use of FD&C Red No. 3, and a decision regarding this chemical is expected in the near future.
To streamline the process of evaluating chemicals in the food supply moving forward, the Food and Drug Administration is in the process of establishing an “Office of Food Chemical Safety, Dietary Supplements, and Innovation.” This initiative aims to create a more efficient mechanism for assessing additives in food and ensuring their safety in the future.