After an online petition and much public scrutiny, Gatorade-makers are changing the sports drink's recipe to remove an ingredient that may be linked to health issues including reduced fertility and neurological damage.
This chemical, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), is often used in the sports drink and other citrus beverages to help keep the fruit flavoring evenly distributed. But the New York Times reports that it also contains bromine, an element found in certain flame retardants that are used in things like upholstered furniture and children’s products.
Although BVO has been used in products for decades, it was thrust into the spotlight again last year when teenager Sarah Kavanagh started an online petition asking PepsiCo to remove the flame retardant ingredient from the sports drink. According to Kavanagh's change.org page, BVO has already been banned in Japan and the European Union.
"That means, #1 it’s not necessary to make Gatorade, and #2 there is enough information out there that entire countries have banned this chemical product," the teen wrote.
She went on to say,"According to Scientific American, BVO has been patented as a flame retardant and is found in some beverages including some flavors of Gatorade. It is “under intense scrutiny because research has shown that they are building up in people's bodies, including breast milk, around the world.”
After more than 200,000 people supported her effort by signing the petition, PepsiCo announced they would be removing BVO from Gatorade.
But the company's spokeswoman Molly Carter told the LAist that these signatures didn't directly influence their decision to remove the controversial ingredient, and said that PepsiCo had been considering making this change for more than a year. Carter did admit however that the online petition demonstrated a public concern with the ingredient.
CNN reports that as of now, BVO still remains in other sports drinks and sodas, including Powerade, Mountain Dew, Fanta and Fresca. The makers of these drinks assured the news organization that their beverages were safe and in accordance with FDA regulations.