Success: Flame Retardant to be Removed from Soft Drinks


Target: Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo and Muhtar Kent, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company

Goal: Commend PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company for plans to remove fire retardant from beverages

America’s beloved soft-drink companies use a flame retardant in various sports drinks and sodas. The flame retardant is called brominated vegetable oil (BVO) and helps keep citrus flavorings from separating out of soft drinks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food and Applied Nutrition was petitioned previously by ForceChange to prohibit the use of this patented flame retardant in beverages. In January 1970 a BVO study indicated cardiotoxicity in rats, which bumped the additive off of the FDA’s generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list of substances. Later that year BVO was added to what is currently a short list of additives “permitted on an interim basis pending further study.” BVO is still on that interim list, awaiting further study 40 years later.

The silver lining behind the FDA’s lack of movement on the issue is that PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company have taken initiative and responsibility for their use of BVO and decided to remove it from their soft drinks. A number of petitions to the FDA and to these beverage giants made consumer sentiment on the use of BVO clear. Luckily for the American people, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are planning to do the right thing.

BVO has been banned in Europe, Japan, and India for years and PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have found ways to alter the ingredients of their products to comply with the laws of these countries. The decision to eliminate BVO altogether is a good one and a huge success for the people who drink Gatorade, Fanta, Mountain Dew, Powerade and several other drinks from these companies. Thank PepsiCo and Coca-Cola for their proposed ingredient shift and show them that we are eagerly awaiting the elimination of BVO from all of their products.


Dear Ms. Nooyi and Mr. Kent,

The use of BVO in PepsiCo and Coca-Cola products in North America and Latin America is highly bothersome. Your companies have the ability to make the same products with different ingredients as shown in the sale of these products in BVO-banned countries.

You have recently decided to eliminate BVO in your products, and I want to thank you. BVO is a chemical that humans should not be ingesting. It has been shown to cause skin and nerve issues as well as memory loss in large doses. The major problem is that bromine, from which BVO is derived, builds up a toxicity in the human body. Your decision to eliminate this unnecessary chemical is a good idea. I look forward to the coming months when your products on the shelves are BVO-free.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jeff Taylor via Wikimedia Commons

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