PepsiCo To Remove Flame Retardant From Gatorade Sports Drinks
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
PepsiCo Inc has announced that they will discontinue the use of a controversial ingredient in some flavors of their Gatorade-brand sports drink, though they insist the move was not made in response to a Mississippi teenager’s petition seeking the chemical’s removal.
The news agency reports that small quantities of the substance can be legally used in some citrus-flavored beverages in the US as an emulsifier, meaning that it keeps flavor distributed evenly throughout the beverage. BVO had reportedly been used in the orange, lemonade, and citrus cooler flavors of the drink, as well as a handful of other types of Gatorade-brand products.
However, within the next few months, the ingredient will be replaced by sucrose acetate isobutyrate, “an emulsifier that is ‘generally recognized as safe’ as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration,” Stephanie Strom of the New York Times explained on Friday.
Gatorade spokesperson Molly Carter told Strom that the company had been testing potential replacements for BVO in their drinks for approximately a year due to “customer feedback,” and said that initially they did not plan to announce the change because they did not consider BVO to be “a health and safety risk.”
They ultimately changed their mind, however, because of the Change.org petition that was started by 15-year-old Hattiesburg, Mississippi native Sarah Kavanagh when she became concerned about the use of BVO in the drinks after reading about it online.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Kavanagh collected more than 200,000 signatures on her online petition as of January 25.
In a telephone interview with Strom, Kavanagh said that she was in the middle of her algebra class when a friend passed along the news. She said that they asked the teacher to be excused to the restroom, then called her mother and said, “Mom, we won.”
Furthermore, in an online statement cited by Reuters, she said that she initially believed her petition “might get a lot of support because no one wants to gulp down flame retardant, especially from a drink they associate with being healthy… but with Gatorade being as big as they are, sometimes it was hard to know if we’d ever win.”
She wasn’t the only one hailing PepsiCo’s decision to do away with BVO, which has been banned in Japan and the European Union. According to Reuters, Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said that he applauded the company “doing the responsible thing and voluntarily getting it out of Gatorade without waiting for government officials to require it to do so.”
Gatorade isn’t the only American drink that used the flame retardant chemical as an emulsifier, though. In fact, it isn’t even the only PepsiCo beverage that contained BVO, according to the New York Times. It is also included in their citrus-flavored soda Mountain Dew, as well as select flavors of Coca-Cola’s Powerade and Fresca lines, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Squirt and Sunkist Peach Soda.
“PepsiCo said it had no plans to remove the ingredient from Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew, both of which generate more than $1 billion in annual sales,” Strom said.