If you live in the U.S. and drink Mountain Dew and some other citrus-flavored sodas, then you are also getting a dose of a synthetic flame retardant chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO). There have been reports of excessive consumption that has been associated with adverse health effects cause by Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO). In one case, a man who drank eight liters of Ruby-Red Squirt daily had a reaction that caused his skin color to turn red and produced lesions diagnosed as bromoderma. The excessive quantities together with the fact that the man had a higher than normal sensitivity to bromine made this an unusual case. A similar case reported that a man who consumed two to four liters of a cola containing BVO on a daily basis experienced memory loss, tremors, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, headache, and ptosis of the right eyelid, as well as elevated serum chloride. In the two months it took to correctly diagnose the problem, the patient also lost the ability to walk. Eventually, bromism was diagnosed and hemodialysis was prescribed which resulted in a reversal of the disorder.
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil that has had atoms of the element bromine bonded to it. Brominated vegetable oil is used to stabilize citrus-flavored soft drinks. Its high density helps the droplets of natural fat-soluble citrus flavors stay suspended in the drink. BVO has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931, generally at a level of about 8 ppm. Careful control of the type of oil used allows bromination of it to produce BVO with a specific density (1.33 g/mL). As a result, it can be mixed with less-dense flavoring agents such as citrus flavor oil to produce a resulting oil whose density matches that of water or other products. The droplets containing BVO remain suspended in the water rather than separating and floating at the surface. A possible replacement is sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB), which as of January 25, 2013 was slated to replace BVO in Gatorade. Gatorade currently uses the stabilizer Glycerol ester of wood rosin (E445) in Europe.
An online petition started by Sarah Kavanagh of Hattiesburg Mississippi, asking PepsiCo to stop adding BVO to Gatorade and other products had collected over 200,000 signatures by January 2013. The petition points out that since Gatorade is sold in countries where BVO is not approved, there is already an existing formulation without this ingredient. PepsiCo announced on January 25, 2013 that it would no longer use BVO in Gatorade but had no plans to remove it from Mountain Dew.