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FDA Bans Brominated Vegetable Oil: Learn About the Additive and What This Means for Foods and Beverages

The additive, found in some sodas, is no longer considered safe

It’s no secret that many of your favorite foods and beverages contain additives and chemical ingredients to help them have a longer shelf life. However, as of July 3, one additive will stop being used entirely. After recent studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is banning brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as it’s no longer safe. This goes into effect on August 2. Keep reading to learn more about the brominated vegetable oil ban and what it means for future items.

What is brominated vegetable oil?

Brominated vegetable oil is simply vegetable oil that’s been modified with bromine. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), bromine can be used as an alternative to chlorine in swimming pools, is found in fire retardants and sanitation products and is also used historically as a sedative.

Until now, BVO has been used as an additive in food since the 1920s. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was recognized on the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list and the FDA eventually began regulating it in the 1970s. Today, it’s only used in very few beverages, specifically to keep citrus flavoring from floating to the top.

The FDA ban on BVO

On July 3, 2024, the FDA revoked its regulations on BVO. In a statement, the FDA said, “The agency concluded that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe.” It noted that after various studies conducted with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the results found the “potential for adverse health effects in humans.”

BVO was authorized to be used in small amounts and manufacturers were required to “list BVO, or the specific brominated vegetable oil such as brominated soybean oil, in the ingredients list if it was used.”

In a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology on May 16, 2022, that evaluated potential health effects related to BVO consumption in rats, it was found that BVO could have potential negative health effects on the thyroid in rodents especially when exposed to high levels of bromine. Shortly after that in November of 2023, the FDA announced a proposed rule to revoke their regulation of allowing the use of BVO in food and beverages.

Before the ban was announced, many brands already used alternative ingredients in their beverages and the additive was already banned in other countries.

How does the BVO ban go into effect?

Woman checking ingredient labels
Alona Siniehina

The new rule goes into effect on August 2. According to the agency, “The compliance date for this rule is one year after the effective date, to provide the opportunity for companies to reformulate, relabel, and deplete the inventory of BVO-containing products before the FDA begins enforcing the final rule.”

As far as taste goes, you likely won’t be able to notice any changes in your beverages. Most items already don’t have the additive, and the FDA is working to ensure that everyone stays safe.

“Revoking the regulation that authorized the use of brominated vegetable oil in food is an example of FDA using its risk and science-based post-market authority,” Sarah Gallo, vice president, product policy for the Consumer Brands Association previously told Food and Business News. “This process shows that FDA’s system on reviewing food additives is active and working. Food safety is the No. 1 priority for the makers of America’s trusted household brands, and we will continue to actively participate in the regulatory process to ensure a safe and wholesome food supply.”


For more health food news:

A Plant-Based Diet Can Have Adverse Health Effects if Ultra-Processed Food Is Included, a New Study Shows

The Intermittent Fasting Diet: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Paleo and Anti-Inflammatory Diets: What They Do and Don’t Have in Common

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