After numerous calls for government agencies to revisit research on brominated vegetable oil (BVO), as well as the ban of the sale of products containing the embattled ingredient in the state of California last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to revoke regulations authorizing its use in food products.
The proposal demonstrates FDA’s conclusion that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe based on studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that found the potential for adverse health effects in humans.
BVO is vegetable oil that is modified with bromine and used in small amounts to keep citrus flavoring from separating and floating to the top of some beverages. However, BVO was determined by FDA in 1970 to no longer be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food — and many beverage makers reformulated recipes to replace BVO over time.
FDA said it has continued to analyze food ingredients for health impacts and discussed several embattled additives directly in its release on BVO, saying: “We recognize that California recently took steps to ban the use of four food ingredients, including BVO, in that state. The agency is continuously reviewing and reassessing the safety of a variety of chemicals in food to ensure the science and the law support their safe use in food, including all four ingredients that are part of the recent California law. In fact, the FDA is currently reviewing the color additive regulations authorizing the use of FD&C Red No. 3 in ingested drugs and foods … . A decision from the FDA is forthcoming.”