LISTEN LIVE:

White House holds first press briefing since Florida school shooting, Russia indictments.

ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
73°
Mostly Cloudy
H 73° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 73° L 63°
  • cloudy-day
    73°
    Today
    Mostly Cloudy. H 73° L 63°
  • heavy-rain-day
    77°
    Tomorrow
    Chance of Rain. H 77° L 61°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Health
Brominated vegetable oil Q&A
Close

Brominated vegetable oil Q&A

Brominated vegetable oil Q&A
Photo Credit: flickr.com
In January 2013, PepsiCo announced it would remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its Gatorade drinks in response to customer concerns.

Brominated vegetable oil Q&A

PepsiCo recently announced it would remove brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its Gatorade drinks in response to customer concerns.  

Just what is BVO? And what is it doing in your sports drink?

To learn more, we reached out to food chemists Kantha Shelke, PhD, a Chicago scientist who consults with food companies to develop new products, and Walter Vetter, PhD, who is studying BVO at the University of Hohenheim in Germany.

What is BVO?

Brominated vegetable oil is a synthetic chemical that is created when vegetable oil is bonded to the element bromine. Bromine is heavy, and it keeps the oil from floating to the top of water-based solutions, like soft drinks.

Why is BVO in some kinds of drinks?

Citrus flavors -- orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit -- are oily. “When you put them on a soda or in a beverage, they tend to sit on top of the drink. They are not dispersed all the way through,” Shelke says. BVO acts as an emulsifier, meaning it helps the citrus flavors mix better in the soft drink. Drinks that contain BVO usually look hazy or cloudy.

Why are there concerns about BVO?

In very high amounts drunk over a long period of time, BVO can build up in the body and cause toxic effects.

In 1997, doctors were stumped by the case of a man who came to the emergency room with headaches, fatigue, and a loss of muscle coordination and memory. He continued to get worse over time, and eventually he lost the ability to walk. A blood test found sky-high levels of bromide. The source? The man had been drinking between 2 and 4 liters of soda containing brominated vegetable oil every day. He needed dialysis but eventually recovered.

In 2003, doctors treated a man who developed swollen hands with oozing sores. They diagnosed a rare case of the skin condition bromoderma after blood tests revealed his bromine was about twice normal limits. The man admitted drinking about 8 liters of Ruby Red Squirt, which contains BVO, each day.

High amounts of bromine can also cause skin breakouts known as halogen acne.

What about lower levels?

It’s not known whether BVO might pose health concerns at the low levels most people take in, Vetter says.

But he and others think the food additive needs further study.

That’s because it’s in the same chemical family as flame-retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE).

Scientists are studying brominated flame retardants because blood tests show that these chemicals can build up in our bodies. Early studies suggest that flame-retardant chemicals disrupt normal hormone function, leading to problems with brain development in children, fertility, thyroid function, and possibly cancer.

In a 2012 study, Vetter found that in the U.S., BVO intake dwarfs the level of our exposure to other similar chemicals.  Adults take in 4,000 times more BVO than PBDEs on average, for example, while kids get about 1,000 times more.

Is BVO FDA-approved?

In 1958, the FDA said BVO was generally safe to use, but it changed its mind in the 1970s, giving BVO "interim" status. Interim status means beverage manufacturers can use it in limited amounts pending the outcome of further studies. Those studies have never been done, leaving the ingredient in limbo for more than 30 years.

It’s allowed to be used at a level not to exceed 15 parts per million.

“It’s used in much lower amounts, about 8 parts per million,” Shelke says, “However, this rule was made at a time when sodas were a treat, in the 1950s, and not part of the daily diet.”

“So the rules were absolutely relevant then,” she says. “But today, the way consumers drink sodas today is very different.” And she thinks the rules may need to be revisited.

Other countries are playing it safer. BVO is banned as a food additive in Japan, India, and the European Union.

What products contain BVO?

BVO is in some citrus soft drinks including Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fresca, and Fanta. It’s also in sports drinks like Powerade and some pre-mixed cocktails.

Following recent news articles and an online petition, PepsiCo said it would remove BVO from Gatorade.

“While our products are safe, we are making this change because we know that some consumers have a negative perception of BVO in Gatorade,” says Pepsi in an emailed statement to WebMD.

They expect to have the reformulated product on store shelves in a few months.

It’s still unclear whether they will remove BVO from their other products, like Mountain Dew.

Other beverage companies have not followed suit.

SOURCES: Bendig, P. Food Chemistry, accepted manuscript, Jan. 19, 2013.Kantha Shelke, PhD, founder, Chief Scientific Officer, Corvus Blue; spokesperson, Institute of Food Technologists, Chicago, Ill.Walter Vetter, PhD, professor, Institute of Food Chemistry, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

News

  • The woman accused of screaming at a mother and her baby on a Delta flight last week has now been punished at work. >> Watch the video here According to Fox News, Susan Peirez, who claimed to work for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the incident, has been suspended from her job with the New York state government. >> DOT reveals which airlines ranked highest for complaints in 2017 “State employees are and must be held to the highest standard both professionally and personally,” said Ronni Reich, a spokesperson for the New York State Council of the Arts, where Peirez works. “We were notified of this situation and have commenced an investigation. This employee has been removed from the office and placed on leave until further notice and until the inquiry is resolved.” >> On Rare.us: Woman kicked off Delta flight for complaining about baby Mother Marissa Rundell captured the incident on camera, and the video quickly made its rounds on the internet. The footage shows an annoyed Peirez complaining about having to sit next to a “crying baby” on the plane even though it doesn’t appear the child was crying at the time. When a flight attendant informed her that she couldn’t change seats, she threatened to have the employee fired and was soon removed from the flight.  >> WATCH: United Airlines plane loses engine cover on way to Honolulu, makes emergency landing Delta responded in a statement, saying Peirez’s actions and behavior failed to meet the airline’s standards for passengers: >> Read more trending news  'We ask that customers embrace civility and respect one another when flying Delta,' the statement said. 'This customer’s behavior toward a fellow customer on a flight from New York to Syracuse was not in keeping with those standards. We appreciate our Endeavor Air flight attendant’s commitment to Delta’s core values and apologize to the other customers on board Flight 4017 who experienced the disturbance.
  • Latest updates, results, photo galleries and stories from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
  • A Minnesota man listening to emergency dispatch audio learned that his wife, a 911 dispatcher, was killed in a crash with a wrong-way driver as she headed for work, the Star Tribune reported. >> Read more trending news Jenna L. Bixby, 30, died Saturday night in the head-on crash in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, authorities said. Her husband, Daniel Bixby, was listening to the audio that first reported the crash, according to Andrew Williams, who heads two Twin Cities scanner monitoring groups online, the Star Tribune reported. The crash was reported at 8 p.m. Two hours later, State Patrol troopers contacted Daniel Bixby and confirmed that his wife had died. “A few of us were listening at the same time last night and messaging back and forth,” Williams told the Star Tribune. “Maybe two hours later, Dan sent a message on the board that troopers came and told him it was his wife. Yeah, it’s tough.” The wrong-way driver was identified as retired minister Richard J. Shaka, 72, of Blaine. He was in critical condition, authorities said. Troopers said alcohol consumption by Shaka appears to have been a factor in the collision. Jenna Bixby worked the past 3½ years as a 911 dispatcher for the city of Minneapolis, according to city records. “Minneapolis’ Emergency Communications staff work day and night to keep people safe,” Mayor Jacob Frey said Sunday. “As a 911 dispatcher, that’s what Jenna Bixby did for years -- and what she was on her way to do at City Hall when her life was tragically taken late last night.” Shaka taught at North Central University in Minneapolis in the Bible and Theology Department from 1996 until he retired in 2011. Shaka also founded a Twin Cities nonprofit organization that builds orphanages and youth centers in his native Sierra Leone, the Star Tribune reported.
  • A substitute teacher at Western Guilford Middle School, in Guilford County, North Carolina, was fired after a video surfaced of him body-slamming a student. The student, Jose Escudero, told WGHP that the altercation started because of a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. >> Read more trending news  Jose said the teacher took the box, throwing it into a sink, WGHP reported. The 12-year-old said he waited until end of class to ask for the chocolate to be returned. Jose said he put them in his bag and the substitute teacher tried to grab the candy, WGHP reported.  Jose said the teacher then grabbed him and held him against the wall before throwing him over his shoulder to the ground. The student said he had bruises on his elbow, shoulder and back. Jose’s mother shared the video of Jose falling to the floor on Facebook saying she wants justice. Guilford County Schools spokeswoman Tina Firesheets told WGHP that the teacher is no longer a district employee. The Escuderos told WGHP that they’re looking into legal action against both the school and teacher, whose name has not been released. WSOCTV.COM contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the deadly Florida high school shooting (all times local): 1:50 p.m. A group of students who survived the Florida school shooting have started their 400-mile trip to the state capital to pressure lawmakers to act on a sweeping package of gun control laws. The students left Coral Springs on Tuesday afternoon and expect to arrive in Tallahassee in the evening. They plan to hold a rally Wednesday at the Capitol in hopes that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled Legislature. The fate of the new restrictions is unclear. Lawmakers have rebuffed gun restrictions since Republicans took control of the governor's office and the Legislature in 1999. But some in the GOP say they will consider the bills. Wednesday will mark one week since authorities say a former student killed 17 students and faculty at Stoneman Douglas High School. ___ 1:15 p.m. Three buses are preparing to take about 100 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to Tallahassee so that they can pressure state lawmakers to pass more restrictive gun laws. Dozens of reporters and cameras swarmed the students as they prepared to leave. Many of the students wore burgundy T-shirts of the school's colors. They carried sleeping bags, pillows and luggage and hugged their parents as they loaded the bus for the 400-mile journey. Alfonso Calderon is a 16-year-old junior. He says he hopes that the trip will start a conversation between the Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott and the students over commonsense laws on guns. ___ (Corrects to three buses instead of two) 12:20 p.m. Students from several Florida high schools have taken to the streets in a show of solidarity with students from a nearby school where 17 students were gunned down in their classrooms on Valentine's Day. Video footage taken from television news helicopter crews showed several dozen students who walked out of West Boca Raton High School on Tuesday morning, apparently bound for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland. Many of the students were wearing their backpacks. The distance between the schools is about 11 miles (17 kilometers). Several dozen more students gathered outside Fort Lauderdale High School, holding signs with messages that included 'our blood is on your hands.' On Monday, students at American Heritage High School held a similar protest. Former Stoneman student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. ___ Midnight A hundred Stoneman Douglas High School students are busing hundreds of miles across Florida to its capital to urge lawmakers to act to prevent a repeat of the massacre that killed 17 students and faculty last week. After arriving late Tuesday, they plan to hold a rally Wednesday in hopes that it will put pressure on the state's Republican-controlled Legislature to consider a sweeping package of gun-control laws. Shortly after the shooting, several legislative leaders were taken on a tour of the school to see the damage firsthand and appeared shaken afterward. Chris Grady is a 19-year-old senior on the trip. He said he hopes the trip will lead to some 'commonsense laws like rigorous background checks.
  • When an accused teenage gunman opened fire on his former classmates last week, he wore a maroon polo shirt emblazoned with the logo of the school from which he’d been expelled -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The name Stoneman Douglas has become synonymous with the tragedy that ended with 17 people dead and the accused killer, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, charged with murdering them. But who was Marjory Stoneman Douglas? Douglas, who died in 1998 at the age of 108, was a journalist and advocate of the women’s suffrage movement. She may be most well-known, however, for her efforts to save the Florida Everglades, which are not far from the school bearing her name. >> Read more trending news Below are some of the details from Douglas’ remarkable life. Marjory Stoneman, who was born in 1890 in Minneapolis, showed a tendency for excellence early on. According to the National Park Service, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Wellesley College, where she was elected “class orator.” Following a brief marriage to a man named Kenneth Douglas, she moved to Florida in 1915 to reunite with her father, Frank Stoneman, who she had not seen since she was a child. The first publisher of the Miami Herald, Stoneman hired his daughter as a society columnist.  Moving through various duties at the Herald, Douglas established herself as a noteworthy writer, the National Park Service said. It was as a journalist that she embraced activism, fighting for feminism, racial justice and conservation of nature.  It was around 1917 that Douglas took on a passionate role in advocating for the preservation of the Everglades. NPR reported that most people at the time considered the Everglades “a worthless swamp,” but Douglas disagreed.  “We have all these natural beauties and resources,” Douglas said in a 1981 NPR interview, when she was 91 years old. “Among all the states, there isn’t another state like it. And our great problem is to keep them as they are in spite of the tremendous increase of population of people who don’t necessarily understand the nature of Florida.” Douglas in 1947 published her book, “The Everglades: River of Grass,” described by the National Park Service as the “definitive description of the natural treasure she fought so hard to protect.” Later that year, she was an honored guest when President Harry Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park, according to the National Wildlife Federation.   In the 1950s, Douglas railed against a major project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a system of canals, levees, dams and pumping stations designed to protect marshland -- now used for agriculture and real estate -- from flooding. The National Park Service credits Douglas with fighting the destruction of the wetlands long before scientists realized the effects it would have on Florida’s ecosystem. In 1969, she founded the nonprofit Friends of the Everglades, which continues to fight for the wetlands today.  Co-author John Rothchild, in the introduction to Douglas’ autobiography, described watching her speak at a 1973 public meeting regarding a Corps of Engineers permit: “When she spoke, everybody stopped slapping (mosquitoes) and more or less came to order. She reminded us all of our responsibility to nature and I don’t remember what else. Her voice had the sobering effect of a one-room schoolmarm’s. The tone itself seemed to tame the rowdiest of the local stone crabbers, plus the developers and the lawyers on both sides. I wonder if it didn’t also intimidate the mosquitoes. The request for a Corps of Engineers permit was eventually turned down. This was no surprise to those of us who’d heard her speak.” Douglas was inducted into the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame in 1999, and into the National Women’s Hall of Fame a year later.  When discussing the issue of mankind and humans’ attitude toward nature, Douglas pulled no punches. “I’ll tell you, the whole thing is an enormous battle between man’s intelligence and his stupidity,” she told NPR. “And I’m not at all sure that stupidity isn’t going to win out in the long run.” She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She later donated the medal to Wellesley College.  On the same day she received the medal from President Clinton, Douglas was invited to witness the signing of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly called the Brady Bill, according to the Daily Beast. The bill, named for Jim Brady, the press secretary critically injured during the 1981 attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, established a federal background check for those wanting to purchase a firearm. Cruz passed a background check in February 2017 when he legally bought the assault rifle used in last week’s massacre at Stoneman Douglas.