Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flame Retardant Sodas

Day two of Inspiration Week: As I searched the day for hints of intriguing blog potential, it finally presented itself through the unexpected form of my coworker, Allison. In passing conversation at the vending machine, I stunningly registered the words "flame retardant" and "soda" enter the same sentence.

I'm sorry, what did you just say?? Apparently, a controversial chemical exists in many sodas and power drinks that is also used as a flame retardant. Duh duh duhhhh.... And that's why the back of your virtual cereal box today is all about:

 Flame Retardant Sodas: The Story About Brominated Vegetable Oil

For those of you unfamiliar with this subject (which is probably anyone still reading, or perhaps it's just me), the story gained public attention because many fancy soft drinks like Mountain Dew and Gatorade were found to contain a compound banned in other countries. Soo, my soda is toxic in Japan, yet magically non-toxic here in America, great! 

The culprit: brominated vegetable oil. Apparently this chemical is dangerous 'only in excessive quantities,' as are many typical ingredients (think sugar for one thing). This leads me to two questions: Is this a story of an over-dramatic society prone to exaggeration (a.k.a- America)? Or, does this substance really pose an actual health issue? 

Let's consider- BVO is on a list entitled "generally recognized as safe" put for by the FDA. Good thing the word 'generally' is in there, right? Then again, I do always strangely get a headache after drinking Mountain Dew and Gatorade...(<-true statement.) Sounds like the answer is... who knows.

To help you decide, here are a few quick facts:
  • BVO is currently on a list of acceptable additives designated by the FDA
  • The ingredient is reportedly banned in Japan and European counties
  • It is used as an emulsifier to give drinks a certain look and distribute flavor evenly 
  • Major brands containing BVO include orange Fanta, Mountain Dew, orange and citrus Gatorade, as well as similar flavors of Powerade. 
    • It is found in 10% of US sodas
  • PepsiCo has since agreed to discontinue usage of the substance. 
    • BVO will be replaced with sucrose acetate isobutyrate. (Hopefully this one won't be my next blog topic.)
  • BVO is a patented flame retardant for plastics

Welp, all I can say is... at least it's not ice cream!

*What I read:

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