The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently proposed banning the use of brominated vegetable oil, commonly known as BVO, in food products nationwide. This decision follows California’s introduction of the California Food Safety Act, which marked the first instance of a US state prohibiting BVO. Already banned in Europe and Japan, the FDA’s move is based on extensive research, which revealed potential health risks associated with BVO. Brominated vegetable oil, an emulsifying agent, is utilized in citrus-flavored beverages to maintain flavor consistency.

Though BVO can be found in some products, primarily certain sodas, its prevalence has diminished over time, partly due to earlier FDA restrictions. In 1970, the FDA withdrew its designation of BVO as ‘Generally Recognized as Safe,’ prompting many beverage manufacturers to seek alternative ingredients. Additionally, a 2012 petition, endorsed by over 200,000 individuals, heightened awareness of health concerns, leading numerous companies to remove BVO from their offerings. The FDA’s proposed ban stems from studies, mainly conducted on animals, that demonstrated potential adverse effects on the thyroid gland. This gland is critical to the regulation of many body activities. The FDA’s decision is part of an ongoing effort to monitor emerging scientific evidence and take regulatory action when necessary to ensure food safety. Public comments on this proposed rule will be accepted until January 17, allowing for input from various stakeholders. If the ban is enacted, beverage manufacturers will have a designated period to adapt their products before the new regulation is enforced. Alongside this, the FDA is re-examining the potential risks associated with red dye No. 3, a synthetic food coloring, as part of California’s broader food additive ban.