FDA Moves to Ban Brominated Vegetable Oil in Food Products

In a significant shift towards enhancing food safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a ban on the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) as a food additive. This decision aligns with actions taken by California and follows bans already in place in Europe and Japan.

Key Takeaways:

  • The FDA proposes to revoke the regulation allowing BVO in food.
  • California’s ban on BVO led the change with the California Food Safety Act.
  • BVO is linked to potential health risks such as nervous system damage and thyroid issues.
  • Public pressure and scientific studies have influenced the FDA’s stance.
  • A final decision will be made after a comment period ending January 17, 2024.

A Step Forward for Consumer Health

The FDA’s proposal comes on the heels of California’s ban on BVO, marking a pivotal moment in consumer health advocacy. The additive, used primarily in citrus-flavored beverages, has been under scrutiny for its potential adverse health effects.

The Science Behind the Ban

BVO is a modified vegetable oil, treated with bromine, a chemical also used in flame retardants. Studies suggest that BVO can lead to health issues such as nervous system damage and memory loss. Moreover, it tends to accumulate in the body, raising long-term health concerns.

Industry Response and Consumer Power

The industry has seen a gradual phase-out of BVO due to FDA restrictions and consumer pressure, including a petition with over 200,000 signatures. Many beverage makers have already reformulated products to eliminate BVO.

Regulatory Action Reflects Emerging Evidence

The FDA’s deputy commissioner for human foods, James Jones, emphasized that the ban exemplifies the FDA’s commitment to act based on scientific evidence. The agency’s review process is ongoing, with a final decision pending public comments.

What Consumers Can Do

Until the ban is official, consumers are advised to check product ingredients lists to avoid BVO. The FDA’s action is a reminder of the power of informed consumer choices and advocacy in shaping food safety regulations.