According to the Associated Press, PepsiCo Inc. is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink in response to customer complaints. Molly Carter, a spokeswoman for the company, said Jan. 25, that the removal of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) was in the works over the past year after the company began receiving backlash from consumers about the ingredient.
The ingredient is also used in other drinks, including some flavors of Powerade made by rival Coca-Cola Co. The Atlanta-based company did not say whether it would remove the ingredient from Powerade as well but noted that it takes customer concerns into account when looking for ways to improve its drinks.
A petition on Change.org started by teenager Sarah Kavanagh noted that brominated vegetable oil has been patented as a flame retardant and is banned in Japan and the European Union. The petition had more than 206,000 supporters on Jan. 30.
For Gatorade, Carter said the ingredient is used as an emulsifier, meaning it distributes flavoring evenly so that it doesn’t collect at the surface. She said it was used only in select varieties including Orange and Citrus Cooler. Other drinks that use BVO include Coca-Cola’s Fanta and PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew.
The ingredient is not banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Carter said that PepsiCo’s decision isn’t the result of any health or safety concerns. PepsiCo plans to replace the BVO in Gatorade with an ingredient called sucrose acetate isobutyrate, which Carter said will maintain the flavor and taste of the drinks.