FDA announces ban on the use of brominated vegetable oil in food products 

The FDA has announced this week that it will prohibit the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food products. BVO is a vegetable oil chemically modified with bromine and it’s been used in small quantities to prevent citrus flavouring from separating in beverages, according to the FDA.

BVO is found in dozens of products, primarily sodas, as listed in the Food Scores database managed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit focused on consumer health and environmental issues. 

The new regulation banning BVO will take effect next month, but companies will have a one-year grace period to reformulate, relabel their products, and deplete existing BVO stocks. 

BVO was removed from the FDA’s Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list in 1970 and has been regulated ever since. Only a limited number of products still contain BVO. 

In a statement released last year, James Jones, the FDA deputy commissioner for human foods, noted: “Over the years, many beverage makers reformulated their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient”. 

According to an EWG news release, a 2012 Change.org petition with over 200,000 signatures highlighted health concerns about BVO, prompting many companies to eliminate it due to market pressure. Additionally, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law in October 2023 banning the manufacture, sale, or distribution of foods containing BVO, along with red dye No. 3, potassium bromate, and propylparaben.

The EWG notes that BVO can accumulate in the body and has been linked to various health issues, including nervous system damage, headaches, skin and mucous membrane irritation, fatigue, and impaired muscle coordination and memory. 

A 1976 study found that BVO consumption in pigs caused damage to their hearts, kidneys, livers, and testicles. The FDA cited a 2022 study in its decision to revoke BVO regulation, which found that BVO derivatives accumulated in the hearts, livers, and fat tissues of rats.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *