PepsiCo has decided to remove the common flame retardant chemical bromide vegetable oil from its products after a Change.org petition garnered almost 200,000 signatures.
BVO, first patented as a flame retardant, is contained in about 10 percent of all soft drinks, specifically citrus drinks like Gatorade, Mountain Dew and Fresca, according to Jacksonville dietitian Cecilia Hennig.
“It's vegetable oil with bromide attached to it. It's used to offer stability to beverages to equally distribute the citrus flavor of the beverage” said Hennig.
A 15-year-old Mississippi teenager began the petition late in 2012 because she was “shocked” about what chemicals were in the popular beverages.
While banned in countries like Japan and Europe, the Federal Drug Administration approve small amounts of BVO for consumption, about 15 parts per million.
Studies measuring the long-term effects of BVO consumption have been limited, but they do show signs for concern said Dr. Harold Laski.
"They found some abnormalities in neurological deficits in rats that took [Bromide Vegetable Oil]. There are also other problems that they found in the prostate and Thryoid hormones,” said Laski.
While Gatorade is used by athletes to re-hydrate, Hennig believes the best, chemical-free choice is water.
"I'm going to vote for water here. Our bodies have a very high request for water. Most of us walk around in a dehydrated state every day. It's the number one cause of fatigue in sports,” said Hennig.
PepsiCo responded that they will replace BVO with another chemical called sucrose acetate isobutyrate.