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On November 2, 2023 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposed to revoke the regulation authorising the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) in food. The FDA conducted studies that clearly show adverse health effects in animals in levels more closely approximating real-world exposure. Therefore, the FDA can no longer conclude that this use of BVO in food is safe.

The studies were conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’(NIEHS) Division of Translational Toxicology (formerly the Division of the National Toxicology Program), to assess unresolved toxicological questions. Results from these studies demonstrate bioaccumulation of bromine and toxic effects on the thyroid – a gland that produces hormones that play a key role in regulating blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, metabolism and the reaction of the body to other hormones.

BVO is a vegetable oil that is modified with bromine. As authorised, it is used in small amounts, not to exceed 15 parts per million, as a stabiliser for fruit flavouring in beverages to keep the citrus flavouring from floating to the top. When used, BVO is required to be listed as an ingredient on the label as “brominated vegetable oil” or as the specific oil that has been brominated, such as “brominated soybean oil”.

Over time, many beverage makers have reformulated their products to replace BVO with an alternative ingredient. Today, few beverages in the US contain BVO.

The Scottish Government today announced that it has shelved plans to implement a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children.

Responding to the news, British Soft Drinks Association Director General, Gavin Partington, said: “We welcome this recognition from the Scottish Government that voluntary measures introduced by industry and implemented by many of our retail partners have had a significant impact on stopping the sale of energy drinks to children.

“The BSDA’s voluntary Code of Practice on energy drinks, which was introduced by and for our members in 2010, contains a number of stringent points on responsible marketing, meaning BSDA members do not market or promote energy drinks to under-16s, nor do they sample products with this age group. In addition, their energy drinks carry an advisory note stating ‘not recommended for children’.

“BSDA members remain committed to supporting the responsible sale of energy drinks.”