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FDA Bans Potentially Harmful Additive Found in Some Sodas

Your soda is getting a safety boost as the FDA cracks down on brominated vegetable oil (BVO).
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

The FDA just announced it will no longer permit the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food products due to safety concerns following recent National Institute of Health (NIH) studies. BVO is modified vegetable oil with bromine added, a food additive used in sodas to keep citrus flavoring from floating to the top.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit research and consumer health advocacy group, dozens of products, mainly sodas and some fruit juices, contain BVO. However, its safety has been questionable since it was removed from the FDA's Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list in 1970. Since then, the FDA has allowed the use of BVO in products only in small amounts and with more stringent safety monitoring.

Since then, many companies have eliminated BVO from consumer products due to market pressure, and now, the FDA is requiring its use to be banned entirely due to additional research.

This new FDA rule banning BVO in products goes into effect on August 2. However, companies have one year after that date to deplete their BVO-containing inventory, as well as reformulate and relabel their products to be BVO-free.

 8 Soda Brands To Stay Away From Right Now

Health Risks of Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Multiple studies have detailed the health risks of consuming BVO's, including:

  • Nervous system damage
  • Headaches
  • Skin and mucous membrane irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination and memory

These health risks have been investigated for quite some time in animal studies, with a 1976 study finding that pigs consuming BVO developed damage to their hearts, kidneys, liver, and testicles.

The FDA also notes a 2022 rat study that showed BVO can persist after consumption, accumulating in rats' hearts, livers, and fat tissue.

 What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Soda Every Day

Sodas That Contain BVO


The EWG's current list highlights several soda types and brands that still contain BVO as an ingredient. Here are some of the items on this list:

  • H-E-B Orange Burst Cane Sugar Soda
  • Food Lion Diet Orange Soda
  • Giant Diet Orange Soda
  • Refreshe Diet Grapefruit Soda
  • Dg Genuine Jamaican Ginger Beer
  • Diet Mountain Dew Soda
  • Shopper's Value Fruit Punch
  • Del's Tangerine Orange Juice
  • Friko Strawberry Drink with Fruit Pulp
  • Big Shot Pineapple Blue Bayou Flavored Soda
  • Borden Pineapple Orange Flavored Sun Burst Drink

 The 20 Unhealthiest Sodas—Ranked by Sugar Content


What should you do until this ban takes effect? Focus on eliminating your soda and concentrated fruit juice consumption as much as possible, and opt for water instead. Always check ingredient labels and steer clear of any products that contain BVO.

The bottom line is that if you have the occasional soda in a social environment, it's not a big deal, but you don't want to be drinking it every day.

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
Melissa is a registered dietitian, weight loss expert, and freelance writer in the field for over 18 years. Read more about Melissa
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