Coca-Cola Removes Flame-Retardant Chemical & Everyone Misses The Point.

mountain_dew_bvo_570Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager from Mississippi, noticed a curious ingredient in some of her sports drinks called brominated vegetable oil or BVO.

BVO is a controversial additive which was generally recognized as safe - that is, until the U.S. Food and Drug administration withdrew that categorization. In the European Union, India and Japan, BVO is banned. Interestingly, BVO has also been patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. In a nutshell, there are some health concerns for BVO - especially if consumed in very large quantities.

As a result, Kavanagh started petitions on and beverage companies took notice. Last year, PepsiCo announced that it would remove the chemical from Gatorade. This week, Coca-Cola noted that it’s in the process of removing BVO from its entire line of beverages - including Powerade, Fanta Orange and Fresca.

These developments are a great victory for consumer power - but I’m not celebrating just yet. The reality is, BVO or not, soda and sugary drinks are completely unhealthy beverages; they’ve been linked to a number of very serious diseases and conditions like obesity, liver damage, tooth decay, kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and more.

When it comes to the whole discussion of BVO in soda and sports drinks, we’re mistaking the forest for the trees. The reality is, soda and other sugary drinks may be just as harmful as the BVO that’s making headlines.

“Eat healthy and exercise” isn’t an attention-grabbing, headline and it’s not something people want to hear. But talking about healthy lifestyles that combine proper nutrition with physical activity is a far more productive conversation than petitioning to make soda minutely less toxic.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.



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  1. What’s funny is that the image for this article is Mountain Dew, which is not a Coca-Cola product…. Is this commentary on the fact that this chemical is still in Mountain Dew?
    Why anyone drinks Mountain Dew is beyond me.

  2. Far, far too much of what is sold in supermarkets is food-like products and not simply food.

  3. Mountain Dew is a product of Pepsico and is actually the latest one to remove BVO from it’s line. While I get the point of this article, there is a lot of sugary horrible things with no nutritional value out there we drink and eat, removing things like BVO is a big step. Soda will always continue to exist, but removing BVO, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweetners and other horrible shit from sodas and our food are important.

  4. Oh my, I certainly agree. Those sugary drinks are addictive, and truly awful for you. Making it a little less toxic doesn’t make it healthy. I stopped drinking soda cold turkey in January (with the exception of an occasional bit of ginger beer) and I don’t really miss it after the first couple of cravings. I feel a lot better, my teeth are whiter, and I’m not as bloated anymore. Also, my sugar intake is probably way down.

  5. Adrián says:

    I stopped drinking sugary drinks since 2009 with no regrets, when I started to do this I started drinking lots of mineral water I believe it is called, club soda. Some people told me it’s unhealthy too. As I scientist I began looking for data to back up this and found none. But it is no my field of interest. What it your stand on mineral water?

  6. Nathaniel says:

    I don’t mind a pop/soda every now in then. They’re definitely not good for the body, but less and less food is. So it’s not going to kill me to enjoy a soda, or dairy, or grain products, or any other of the overly processed foods in the food markets today, especially when on a budget, and not planning to go to more than one grocery store for my groceries.

  7. christopher says:

    flavoured sparkling mineral water is the way to go.add in a safe sugar substitute-voila -the unhealthysoda drinking is eliminated.

  8. We can’t just snap our fingers and make everyone stop drinking sodas. But apparently we CAN just snap our fingers and make those drinks a bit less dangerous. So it’s definitely a victory.
    Some people don’t even care what they put in their bodies and have no desire to learn about why they should care. My close friend told me “I don’t care whats in my food and drink, just let me eat and drink it and stop telling me how bad it is for me.” He just doesn’t care. and has no desire to learn.