PepsiCo Inc. is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink following customer complaints.
A spokeswoman for the company, Molly Carter, says the move was in the works for the past year after the company began "hearing rumblings" from consumers about the ingredient. She said it wasn't a response to a recent petition on Change.org by a Mississippi teenager.
That petition noted that the ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, has been patented as a flame retardant and is banned in Japan and the European Union. The petition had more than 200,000 supporters Friday.
Carter said the ingredient is still used in other PepsiCo drinks, such as Mountain Dew. PepsiCo's decision to remove the ingredient from Gatorade was first reported by the industry tracker Beverage Digest.
What is Brominated Vegetable Oil?
According to the website Whatisthatingredient.com, Brominated Vegetable oil is a vegetable oil that has the element Bromine (35 on the periodic table, second column from the right 3 rows down) added to it to increase the density of the oil. The food manufacturerer most likely uses this over regular vegetable oil to prevent the oil from floating to the top of the product. 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 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. 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.