PepsiCo announced it will remove an ingredient used in fire retardants from its Gatorade sports drinks, following a Mississippi teen's petition and consumer complaints.
The ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, is a chemical containing bromine, which is found in fire retardants. Small quantities of BVO are used legally in some citrus-flavored drinks in the United States to keep the flavor evenly distributed, the LA Times
reported. It is used in Gatorade Orange and Lemonade drinks.
Gatorade spokeswoman Molly Carter said in a statement Friday that BVO-free Gatorade is expected to hit shelves in the next few months.
The move is thought to be in response to a Change.org petition
launched in November by 15-year-old Sarah Kavanagh of Hattiesburg. Her campaign got more than 200,000 signatures, but Carter insists the petition was not the key factor in the decision to remove BVO from the popular sports drinks.
Carter said PepsiCo has been considering the move for more than a year and has been working on a way to take out the ingredient without affecting the flavor of the drink.
Kavanagh's petition cites a Scientific American article suggesting that "BVO could be building up in human tissues" and studies on mice linking large doses of the chemical to "reproductive and behavioral problems."
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the food safety watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest, said PepsiCo is being responsible.
"I applaud PepsiCo for doing the responsible thing and voluntarily getting [BVO] out of Gatorade without waiting for government officials to require it to do so," he told Fox News.
Kavanagh posted on her petition site Friday, calling Gatorade's decision "awesome."
"As someone who loves to drink their products, I'm so glad they're making strides to put as much consideration into their customers' health," she wrote.
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