We are always looking for more reasons to avoid unhealthy foods. While our general guideline is that we can enjoy all foods in moderation, some foods are harder to justify than others. Some folks love soda. We get it: it’s bubbly and sweet.
More and more questions are being raised about the safety of artificial sweeteners that make diet sodas less appealing. But, for some people, they are a treat they love and want to indulge in. Now, there is another reason to avoid them: BVO.
Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, has been a food additive since the 1920s. It is often found in soda. It was recently banned in California as it is potentially harmful to human health. The California ban will go into effect in 2027. Now, the FDA wants it removed from all beverages after a study found it damages the thyroid in mice.
In sports drinks and sodas, it’s used to stop citrus flavoring from separating in the liquid. Some major soda makers stopped using it several years ago, but others are still using it. To be sold in California, they would have had to remove it; this would make it a national rule.
“Toxic additives like BVO that have been shown to pose toxic risks to the thyroid and other chronic health problems should not be allowed in our food,” said Brian Ronholm, the director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “We’re encouraged that the FDA has re-examined recent studies documenting the health risks posed by BVO and is taking action to prohibit its use.”
BVO has already been banned in Japan and Europe. It has been linked to headaches, skin irritation, fatigue, memory problems, loss of muscle coordination and nervous system damage. It accumulates in the body over time. If it damages the thyroid, it can impact blood pressure, heart rate, body pressure and metabolism.
In the past, we have talked about how we don’t like it when the government bans foods because they are unhealthy. When our options are taken away because we’re not being trusted to make healthy choices, it is infuriating. However, we applaud when we see moves like this. Often, the food industry uses additives that aren’t well-studied or are known to be dangerous but aren’t banned. It’s distressing to know that there are dangers hidden inside our foods. When there is one less thing we must search the label for, it’s a relief. Making our food safer while leaving us the option of choice is the right balance.
The FDA is creating an “Office of Food Chemical Safety, Dietary Supplements, and Innovation” specifically to evaluate chemicals in food. It hasn’t had a specific department for the process before, and they hope this will make it more streamlined and faster in the future.
Until all this is settled, read the ingredient list carefully or try to kick your soda habit. We always recommend sparkling water!