A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
By Nina Pajak
Consider this your weekly “gag-me-with-a-spoon” newsbreak.
PepsiCo, manufacturer of Gatorade drinks, has voluntarily decided to stop including Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) in its products due in part to “consumer feedback.” Some of that consumer feedback may have had something to do with the fact that BVO is patented in Europe as a flame retardant, and not necessarily an important part of your balanced breakfast.
While BVO is not considered dangerous in the United States in small quantities, it is apparently banned from foodstuffs in the EU and Japan, according to a Change.org petition from Sarah Kavanagh, a 15-year-old Mississippi girl who will probably get into Harvard in a few years. I’m sure everyone is relieved and grateful that PepsiCo has taken it upon themselves to extract the ingredient from their drinks which are marketed to athletes and little league soccer players across the country, despite the fact that it has not been mandated by any official governing body. In fact, they’ve been contemplating this change for more than a year, according to the LA Times. All on their own! Okay? See how good they are? How many other companies including flame retardant chemicals in their sports drinks voluntarily consider removing said chemicals without getting sued?
Sadly, I think the answer is probably a lot.
In case you were wondering, BVO is used as an emulsifier for those yummy citrus flavors. Without it (or a substitute ingredient like it), your Gatorade would look less uniformly day-glo orange and more like a weird, yellowy-watery substance with globs of orange floating around the top. Yum. Of course, like all flame retardants, it’s also quite delicious. Just kidding. Kids, disregard.
I don’t know why I found it so particularly shocking that a beverage that comes in “blue” flavor would contain a hideous and possibly toxic chemical, but I was. Lesson learned. Henceforth, I shall read and Google all ingredients on drink labels. Or I’ll just subscribe to Sarah Kavanagh’s Change.org profile page. Or I’ll just stay away from this junk for good, thereby ensuring that I will not unwittingly consume any more flame retardants.
Except for Fresca. I have been abstaining from soda and fake beverages throughout the duration of my pregnancy, like a good girl. However, the three things on Earth I am dying to consume are a bagel with lox, an Italian sub, and an ice-cold Fresca.
Coca-Cola company, hear this: if you don’t get the flame retardants out of my Fresca by the time I’m ready to return to the land of the normals, well . . . I didn’t think this through. I have no threat as of yet, beyond the promise of my absolute devastation. Or my eventual transformation into a super heroine who is impervious to fire, as excessive BVO consumption has ensured that flame retardant chemicals run through my veins and seep through my pores. It sounds cool, but then you think about the probable insidious cancer, and it’s way less awesome.
Epilogue: Scientific American confirms BVO is in Fresca, which has just crushed my spirit.