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FDA to Ban Popular Soft Drink Ingredient: High Fructose Corn Syrup

FDA to Ban Popular Soft Drink Ingredient: High Fructose Corn Syrup

FDA to Ban Popular Soft Drink Ingredient: High Fructose Corn Syrup


In Brief:

  •  FDA considers banning Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) in soft drinks due to toxicology concerns.
  • Recent studies indicate risks associated with BVO, prompting FDA’s review and potential prohibition.
  • Major soda companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are already phasing out BVO, indicating industry readiness for alternatives.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering banning the use of Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) in soft drinks.

BVO is a modified vegetable oil used as an emulsifying agent to ensure citrus flavouring agents don’t float to the top of soft drinks.

The FDA’s decision follows a proposal made in November 2023 to revoke the registration of the modified vegetable oil due to recent toxicology studies that make its continued use difficult to support.

The FDA is reviewing regulations that authorize the use of certain food additives, with a view to automatically prohibit the approval of any food colouring agents found to cause cancer in humans or animals, making for a more nimble bureaucratic process.

BVO has been used as an emulsifying agent since the 1930s, and it was temporarily limited to relatively small concentrations of no more than 15 parts per million exclusively in citrus-flavored drinks when questions were raised over its possible toxicity.

However, data on the risks posed by even these small amounts of BVO over time hasn’t been easy to collect, relying heavily on long-term studies that re-evaluate health effects in a significantly sized sample of people. Yet the evidence has been slowly mounting.

Recent animal studies based on relative concentrations of BVO humans are likely to ingest have convinced the FDA that there is sufficient evidence to ban its use altogether.

India, Japan, and the EU nations have already banned BVO, and it was outlawed in California in October 2022, with legislation due to take effect in 2027.

Most major soda-drink companies are phasing the ingredient out of their products over the past decade.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola Co. have been reformulating their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient.

BVO can slowly build up in fat tissues, leading to iodine deficiency disorders, according to animal studies.

A UK study in the 1970s found bromine was building up in human tissues, with animal studies linking high concentrations of BVO with heart and behavioural problems.

The FDA’s proposed action is an example of how the agency monitors emerging evidence, conducts scientific research to investigate safety-related questions, and takes regulatory action when the science does not support the continued safe use of additives in foods.

FDA deputy commissioner for human foods, James Jones, said that the FDA is monitoring emerging evidence and, as needed, conducts scientific research to investigate safety-related questions, and takes regulatory action when the science does not support the continued safe use of additives in foods.

With suitable alternatives to BVO already being used to make citrus drinks around the world taste tangy down to the very last drop, the ingredient isn’t likely to be missed.


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