The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revoked the authorization for the use of brominated vegetable oil, a common food additive used in sports drinks and sodas, citing safety concerns.

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a vegetable oil modified with bromine, previously authorized for use as a stabilizer and emulsifier in certain fruit-flavored beverages to prevent the citrus flavoring from floating to the top. BVO was permitted for use in small amounts not exceeding 15 parts per million. Products that use BVO had to list it on the label.

Initially categorized as a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) substance, BVO has now been removed from this list after the FDA determined it is no longer safe for use.

"The agency concluded that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe after the results of studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found the potential for adverse health effects in humans," the FDA news release stated.

The rule will take effect on Aug. 2, 2024. However, the manufacturing companies have one year from that date to reformulate, relabel, and sell off their inventory of BVO-containing products before the FDA starts enforcement.

Over the years, many companies have found alternatives for BVO and have used replacements in their products. Currently, only a few companies in the U.S. use BVO.

Research indicates that BVO can accumulate in the body and has adverse health effects, particularly on the nervous system. Consuming large quantities of BVO-containing soda over extended periods may lead to issues like headaches, skin and mucous membrane irritation, fatigue, and difficulties with muscle coordination and memory.

"The FDA's decision to ban brominated vegetable oil in food is a victory for public health. But it's disgraceful that it took decades of regulatory inaction to protect consumers from this dangerous chemical," Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said in a news release.

"It's outrageous that for years Americans have been consuming a chemical banned in Europe and Japan. The FDA's belated action on BVO underscores the urgent need for more rigorous and timely oversight of food additives," said Faber.