Trending – Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

The safety status of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in the USA may change in the coming months. In this post, we look at the safety and changes of BVO.

What is brominated vegetable oil (BVO)?

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a food additive used in many beverages to help emulsify specific ingredients and prevent the ingredients from separating. 

For example, it helps prevent an oil-based flavor ingredient from separating from the water, thus allowing the flavor to be evenly distributed and stabilized throughout the beverage.

Where do I find brominated vegetable oil (BVO)?

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  • citrus-flavored soda

  • citrus-flavored sports drinks

  • energy drinks

  • fruit-flavored syrups

  • baked goods

However, many companies have already removed BVO from their formulations.  

What is the concern around brominated vegetable oil (BVO)?

Brominated vegetable oil contains bromine. Bromine is added to vegetable oil to create BVO. Bromine makes the oil more dense than water, which allows it to remain mixed with the other water-based ingredients in beverages. 

New research suggests that bromide (negatively charged bromine) can accumulate in the body tissues. 

Is brominated vegetable oil (BVO) harmful?

New data suggests that brominated vegetable oil (BVO) can cause organs and tissues, including the thyroid, to accumulate bromide at potentially harmful levels. 

While the study looked at rats, it did look at human-relevant exposure levels. 

The study shows that bromide can react with fats, resulting in bromide accumulation in tissues stored in the rat’s bodies. Extrapolating from the rat-focused studies, there is concern that consuming BVO in excess could accumulate in human tissues too. 

What do the regulatory agencies say about brominated vegetable oil (BVO)?

Before 1970, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredient. Since 1970, the FDA has regulated BVO as a food additive ingredient.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Japanese regulatory authority previously banned BVO in food and beverage products. 

What’s changed with brominated vegetable oil (BVO) regulation in the United States?

New data suggests that brominated vegetable oil (BVO) may cause bromide accumulation in body tissues and potentially impact human health. Therefore, the FDA proposed to revoke the safety status of BVO.

It’s currently still allowed in products until the FDA completes the formal evaluation process, including a public comment period. Once regulators complete that process, all of the scientific data and the information gathered from the public commenting period will be reviewed and will decide if BVO should be banned.  

If it is banned, manufacturers will have one year to reformulate any products containing BVO to comply with the new regulations.

If you wish to avoid BVO, check food and beverage labels, as manufacturers list all ingredients.  

The good news.

New evidence allows regulators to reevaluate ingredients and make informed decisions based on the science. Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is an excellent example of regulators using new data to inform the regulations that keep our foods and beverages safe. 

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