Have you ever heard of brominated vegetable oil? Unless you're one of those obsessive label-readers like myself, odds are high that you've never thought twice about specific kind of oil before. Well, I have some bad news for any fruit-flavored soda-lovers: your drink of choice contains flame retardant.

BVO was pulled from the "Generally Recognized as Safe List" for flavor additives in 1970, but midway through the decade it reemerged when the Flavor Extract Manufacturers' Association (a real thing, apparently) petitioned to get BVO back into fruit-flavored sodas. It's been there ever since. For example, a quick look at Coca-Cola's website shows a detailed ingredient list that claims BVO exists in their products to "prevent the citrus flavoring oils from floating to the surface in beverages." Right, because nobody would want to drink crap that looked all separated and gross like that.

But is it worth it? BVO, which is patented as a flame retardant has already been banned in Japan and all of Europe. Many studies, like the following findings from Environmental Health News, give a resounding "No."

After a few extreme soda binges — not too far from what many gamers regularly consume — a few patients have needed medical attention for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, all symptoms of overexposure to bromine. Other studies suggest that BVO could be building up in human tissues, just like other brominated compounds such as flame retardants. In mouse studies, big doses caused reproductive and behavioral problems.

So that junior-high myth that Mountain Dew will kill your sperm actually might have some truth behind it? Dammit. I knew I should have given up the stuff when the government banned Surge.


Is That Flame Retardant In Your Soft Drink? [TreeHugger]
Brominated battle: Soda chemical has cloudy health history

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