FDA to Ban Brominated Vegetable Oil Following California’s Lead

In a pivotal health and safety move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to revoke its sanctioning of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food products. This action is a nationwide response aligning with California’s recent prohibition of the substance.

 

Previously given a nod of approval for use, BVO has been on the FDA’s watch under food additive regulations for several decades. The FDA’s decision was influenced by extensive research, including recent studies in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), revealing a risk of negative health impacts from BVO consumption.

 

Commonly used in a variety of soft drinks and sports beverages, BVO has been a go-to ingredient to maintain a stable blend, specifically keeping citrus flavors from separating. Despite its functional use in the beverage industry, concerns have escalated over its safety.

 

Originally deemed safe in limited quantities, the FDA’s stance on BVO changed in the 1970s, retracting its status as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). Since then, many drink manufacturers have preemptively removed BVO from their products, opting for safer alternatives.

Brian Ronholm, a leading voice on food policy at Consumer Reports, expressed strong support for the FDA’s impending prohibition. “With the conclusive data linking BVO to a spectrum of health risks, it’s high time for its removal from our food supply,” Ronholm stated. Consumer Reports has been a staunch advocate for the elimination of harmful additives like BVO, which have been connected to serious health issues including thyroid dysfunction and chronic illnesses.

 

BVO’s potential dangers aren’t just recognized domestically. The ingredient faces a ban in the European Union as well, with scientific studies indicating associations with various health conditions, including but not limited to neurological and organ-related problems, as well as concerns over developmental and reproductive harm.

 

California’s recently enacted legislation, set to take effect in 2027, includes BVO among several ingredients to be banned from foods within the state. This move has undoubtedly contributed to the FDA’s momentum in re-evaluating food additive safety.

 

The FDA, prioritizing public health, has reinforced its commitment to act based on solid science and statutory authority. The federal agency’s collaboration with NIH has fortified the case against BVO, culminating in the proposition to terminate its food additive authorization.

 

In addition to BVO, the FDA is scrutinizing other substances, such as FD&C Red No. 3, under the rigorous criteria of the Delaney Clause, which forbids the use of any cancer-causing color additives in food and drugs.

 

As the FDA continues its review process, the decision on this and other color additives is expected soon.

 

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