Well if you’re a soda or sports drink drinker, then the answer may very likely be “yes”.
Enter brominated vegetable oil (BVO)…
BVO is a synthetic chemical, created by binding vegetable oil (likely GMO) with atoms of the element bromine. It is patented as a flame retardant but is used widely by the soft drink industry to keep citrus-flavor oils from separating from the rest of beverage. It is commonly used in citrus sodas as well as sports drinks, and can be found in up to 10% of all soft drinks in the US.
But this additive has been BANNED in other countries!
BVO is legally allowed as a food additive in the US and Canada, but is banned in Japan and the European Union. It is just one of many chemicals banned in other countries yet used in US foods.
While the threat of everyday chemicals — especially those in our foods — is increasingly studied and known, the use of BVO in the US food industry is based on outdated information, and needs to be reviewed.
The FDA limit for brominated oil in sodas is based on outdated data from the 1970s, so scientists say the chemical deserves a fresh look. Their concern is that it builds up in tissues, and may have the same effects as brominated flame retardants. — Environmental Health News
It is known that the brominates from flame retardants bioaccumulate in our bodies and have been linked to a range of health issues. The most talked about brominated fire retardants — polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — have been linked to thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, advanced puberty, and reduced fertility. Other types of flame retardants have been linked to cancer. (Ironically, some studies suggest that the chemicals may not effectively reduce the flammability of treated products… but this is a discussion for another time.)
There have been reports that individuals who binge on drinks containing BVO have developed skin lesions, nerve disorders and memory loss. In addition, a couple older lab experiments found that rats fed large amounts of BVO developed heart lesions and become unable to reproduce.
Had enough of this nasty?
BVO is just another reason to kick soda and sports drinks to the curb! Both are also filled with artificial coloring made from coal tar (a number of which have also been banned for use in other countries), refined sugar, corn syrup (Hello, GMO!) and artificial sweeteners.
Sources and Further Reading:
- Environmental Health News: Brominated battle: Soda chemical has cloudy health history
- ABC News: Flame Retardant in Your Mountain Dew? Yep
- Dr. Andrew Weil: Flame Retardant In Your Soda?
- Environmental Health Perspectives: In utero and childhood polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) exposures and neurodevelopment in the CHAMACOS study
- CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Proposition 65
- EWG: EWG Lab Test, HBO Documentary Highlight Toxic Risk Of Fire Retardants
- Sustainable Business: World Bans Brominated Flame Retardants, US Addresses Formaldehyde
- The Washington Post: Flame retardants in consumer products are linked to health and cognitive problems