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Brominated vegetable oil

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil that has had atoms of the element bromine bonded to it. Brominated vegetable oil is used as an emulsifier in citrus-flavored soft drinks such as Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Sun Drop, Squirt and Fresca to help natural fat-soluble citrus flavors stay suspended in the drink and to produce a cloudy appearance.

The addition of bromine increases the density of the oil, and the amount of bromine is carefully controlled to achieve a density that is the same as the water in the drink. As a result, the BVO remains suspended in the water instead of forming separate layers.


Health effects

Long after human consumption of BVO, traces remain in the body fat.[citation needed] Bromine is a halogen and displaces iodine, which may depress thyroid function. Evidence for this has been extrapolated from pre-1975 cases where bromine-containing sedatives resulted in emergency room visits[1] and incorrect diagnoses of psychosis and brain damage due to side effects such as depression, memory loss, hallucinations, violent tendencies, seizures, cerebral atrophy, acute irritability, tremors, ataxia, confusion, loss of peripheral vision, slurred speech, stupor, tendon reflex changes, photophobia due to enlarged pupils, and extensor plantar responses.[2] 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.[3] 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, ptosis of the right eyelid as well as elevated serum chloride.[4] In the two months it took to correctly diagnose the problem the patient also lost the ability to walk. Luckily bromism was finally diagnosed and hemodialysis was prescribed which resulted in a reversal of the disorder.[1] A Pepsi product website notes that BVO has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931.[5]

In test animals, BVO consumption has caused damage to the heart and kidneys in addition to increasing fat deposits in these organs. In extreme cases BVO has caused testicular damage, stunted growth and produced lethargy and fatigue.[6]


The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations imposes the following restrictions on the use of BVO as a food additive in the United States:[7]

(a) The additive complies with specifications prescribed in the "Food Chemicals Codex," 3d Ed. (1981), pp. 40-41, which is incorporated by reference, except that free fatty acids (as oleic) shall not exceed 2.5 percent and iodine value shall not exceed 16. Copies of the material incorporated by reference may be obtained from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20418, or may be examined at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to:

(b) The additive is used on an interim basis as a stabilizer for flavoring oils used in fruit-flavored beverages, for which any applicable standards of identity do not preclude such use, in an amount not to exceed 15 parts per million in the finished beverage, pending the outcome of additional toxicological studies on which periodic reports at 6-month intervals are to be furnished and final results submitted to the Food and Drug Administration promptly after completion of the studies.

[42 FR 14636, Mar. 15, 1977, as amended at 49 FR 5610, Feb. 14, 1984]

BVO is one of four substances that the Food and Drug Administration has defined as interim food additives; the other three are acrylonitrile copolymers, mannitol, and saccharin.[8]

Standards for soft drinks in India prohibit the use of BVO.[citation needed]

See also

  • Glycerol ester of wood rosin


  1. ^ a b Matthew Alice (1999-07-29). Straight from the Hip: What is Brominated Vegetable Oil?. San Diego Reader. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  2. ^ Beatrice Alexandra Golomb. A Review of Scientific Literature as it Pertains to Gulf War Illness, Volume 2: Pyridostigmine Bromide, Chapter Ten. RAND. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  3. ^ Jih DM, Khanna V, Somach SC. "Bromoderma after excessive ingestion of Ruby Red Squirt". New England Journal of Medicine 348 (19): 1932-1934. PMID 12736294.
  4. ^ Horowitz BZ (1997). "Bromism from excessive cola consumption". Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology. 35 (3): 315-320. PMID 9140329.
  5. ^ Pepsi Product Information: Ingredient Glossary. PepsiCo. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  6. ^ Mother Earth's News, Mother's Guide to Hazardous Household Substances (May/June 1984). Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  7. ^ Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21—Food and Drugs, Chapter I—Food and Drug Administration, Department of Heath and Human Services, Subchapter B—Food for Human Consumption, Part 180—Food Additives Permitted in Food or in Contact with Food on an Interum Basis Pending Additional Study. Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Retrieved on 2007-09-17.
  8. ^ (1999) Enhancing the Regulatory Decision-Making Approval Process for Direct Food Ingredient Technologies. Institute of Medicine, 31. Retrieved on 2007-09-17. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Brominated_vegetable_oil". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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