The Ban on BVO: A Shift in Food Additives Regulation

The Ban on BVO: A Shift in Food Additives Regulation

Recently, the FDA made a proposal to revoke the registration of a modified vegetable oil known as BVO, which has been used as an emulsifying agent in citrus-flavored sodas since the 1930s. The decision was made based on toxicology studies that raised concerns about the safety of using BVO in food products. This move marks a significant shift in the regulation of food additives in the US and highlights the importance of constantly reevaluating the safety of commonly used ingredients.

BVO, or brominated vegetable oil, was originally used to keep citrus flavoring agents evenly mixed in sodas by creating a dense oil that floats throughout the beverage. However, studies have shown that BVO can accumulate in fat tissues and may interfere with the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine. These potential health risks have led to the banning of BVO in several countries and states, including California.

In the past, the FDA classified BVO as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), but this changed in the 1960s when concerns were raised about its toxicity. The FDA then limited the use of BVO in citrus-flavored drinks to low concentrations, but ongoing studies have suggested that even small amounts of BVO may pose health risks over time. As a result, the FDA is now considering banning BVO altogether.

Major soda companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. have already started phasing out BVO from their products in response to growing concerns about its safety. This proactive approach by industry leaders demonstrates a willingness to adapt to changing regulatory standards and prioritize consumer health.

The FDA’s decision to reconsider the safety of BVO is just the beginning of a larger shift in how food additives are regulated. The agency is now reviewing regulations that authorize the use of certain additives, with a focus on automatically prohibiting any food coloring agents that are found to cause cancer in humans or animals. This more proactive approach to regulating food additives signifies a commitment to protecting public health and safety.

While the ban on BVO may take some time to be finalized, the shift in how food additives are regulated is clear. With suitable alternatives already being used in citrus drinks, the removal of BVO is not likely to have a major impact on the taste or availability of these products. However, this move sets a precedent for the continued evaluation and regulation of food additives to ensure the safety of consumers.


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