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FDA to ban use of brominated vegetable oil in food, soda

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said today it would revoke the regulation that authorized the use of brominated vegetable oil in food items, effective Aug. 2, as it was no longer safe.

BVO is a chemical ingredient containing bromine, which is found in fire retardants. Small quantities of BVO are used legally in some citrus-flavored drinks in the United States to keep the flavor evenly distributed.

The FDA said it had concluded that BVO was not safe for use after the results of studies, it conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, found the potential for adverse effects in humans.

The agency had first proposed to revoke the regulation in November last year.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, BVO was banned in the UK in 1970, followed by India in 1990, the EU in 2008 and Japan in 2010.

In 1970, the FDA had concluded that its use in food was not generally recognized as safe because of toxicity concerns. After this, the agency began regulating BVO as a food additive, while simultaneously conducting safety studies.

“The FDA’s new regulation to not allow BVO as a food additive is a terrific positive in the right direction,” said Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital Advisors.

As per FDA rules, whenever a company was using the ingredient in any product, it was necessary to list it on the label.

Over time, many beverage makers have replaced BVO with an alternative ingredient, according to the FDA. “Today, few beverages in the U.S. contain BVO,” it said.

“We are aware of the recent FDA action regarding the use of BVO in food. Walmart has been working with private brand suppliers to reformulate products,” a Walmart spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement.

“Currently, there are very few Walmart private brands items that still contain BVO, and we expect them to be reformulated in advance of the FDA compliance date,” the spokesperson added.

PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have removed BVO from their drinks such as Gatorade and Fanta, respectively.

“Sun Drop, manufactured by Keurig Dr Pepper, still uses BVO … This is probably the biggest national brand that still uses it,” said CFRA Research’s Arun Sundaram.

Keurig Dr Pepper did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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