December 15th, 2011

There’s Flame Retardant in Your Soda

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Mountain Dew

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about all the toxic stuff that’s in our food. A while back I wrote about how artificial food dyes in are found in our food.  A report, issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, showed food dyes—used in everything from M&Ms and Fruit Loops to Kraft Mac n Cheese—pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and concluded that synthetic food dye should be banned. But it’s not.

The piece that I find very disturbing is that artificial dyes are used in the US, but not in other countries. Why? Because other countries seem to get it, while the US continues to place cost before the likely health dangers to a human being.

BVO in soda

The US continues to make headlines, this time for allowing another questionable synthetic chemical in soda. Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange and other citrus-flavored drinks have an added synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO. BVO has been patented as a flame retardant and many of our children (and adults) are drinking it.

Which sodas contain BVO?

According to Environmental Health News the following drinks contain BVO:

  • Mountain Dew
  • Squirt
  • Fanta Orange
  • Sunkist Pineapple
  • Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange
  • Powerade Strawberry Lemonade
  • Fresca Original Citrus

Why is it in soda?

BVO is used in citrus flavored soda to keep the fruity flavors mixed in. It gives the soda a cloudy appearance.  BVO isn’t a new addition to soda-it’s been added for decades.

What are the risks of BVO?

In the United States, 85 percent of kids drink a beverage containing sugar or artificial sweetener at least once per week.

According to The Huffington Post:

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.

Here’s the kicker: BVO is one of a class of chemicals that are banned in the European Union and Japan and under close scrutiny even in the U.S. for building up in human tissue and breast milk.

However, the soda companies have been using a safe alternative to BVO in other countries for years. Seems like it would be a simple switch in the US-so why hasn’t it happened? The answer is probably cost.

BVO is now joining BPA in the growing list of scary chemicals found in our food. Here we go again-placing cost above our children’s health. Our chemical system is clearly broken.

What you can do?

  • Support the Safe Chemicals Act so that chemicals are proven safe before being added to our homes, schools, and places of work.
  • Talk with your pocket book. Don’t buy these products.
  • Talk with your children. Explain to them the risks and talk about safer alternatives (how about water?).
  • Talk with your schools. Make sure soda containing BVO isn’t offered in the cafeteria or vending machines.
  • Talk with the soda companies. Send an email or a tweet. Let them know that BVO doesn’t belong in our soft drinks.

What else can we do to get this toxic substance out of soda?

To read more about the brominated battle take a look at the full report from Environmental Health News.

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Ben Husmann/Flickr]

19 Responses to “There’s Flame Retardant in Your Soda”

  1. It’s always a puzzle to me how this conversation at food manufacturer goes… “Oh! This is a flame retardant… why don’t we add it to our drinks and see if it helps keep it citrus-y?”

  2. Ugh! Our system is so broken! It is all about dollar signs!!! I dont drink soft drinks, but lots of people do. So not only will you get diabetes from all that sugar, but maybe skin lesions or memory loss. Sounds like fun….yuck.

  3. Great post, Lori. It’s time to stop peddling poison to our kids. Just read this in Natural News: “Soft drinks have long been suspected of leading to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. When phosphate levels are high and calcium levels are low, calcium is pulled out of the bones. The phosphate content of soft drinks like Coca -Cola and Pepsi is very high, and they contain virtually no calcium.” Lower calcium for our kids is not good.

    Like you, I hate reading this stuff in the news everyday, but we must. Our kids future depends upon it. Keep sharing, we’re listening.

  4. Flame retardant! UGH!! What on earth! I’m with Amity, how do these things even begin??

  5. Ew, ew, ew. I mean, I’d never stand up and defend soft drinks, but there’s no need to make them worse by adding BVO. As if high calories and insane amounts of sweeteners weren’t enough!

  6. Hi Lori,
    This is very disturbing news but I am also not surprised. Big companies have been poisoning our body’s for years.

    My idea, drink filtered water and grow your own food, or at least buy from organic markets.

  7. […] Dew, Fanta Orange and other citrus-flavored drinks have an added synthetic chemical called …Via Share this:   Share […]

  8. I agree, it really is frustrating to keep hearing about toxic stuff in things we eat and things we use.

    Thank you for the list of what we can do about it.

  9. Hi Stephanie-I don’t drink soda either. We called it pop in Wisconsin! But you are right-there are plenty of people that do. The bottom line is flame retardants have no place in anything that’s meant for consumption. Seems like this should be a non-issue, but it’s not.

  10. Ha! Amity I love your take on the conversation that the soda makers had. I can’t even begin to imagine how it got into soda and stayed! Must be hard for someone to sleep at night-or maybe not??

  11. Thank you Ronnie for sharing the information from Natural News. There are so many known issues with soft drinks-yet they continue to remain in the marketplace. The best we can do at this point is to work towards making them less toxic. The manufacturers must be held accountable for the ingredients. There is no excuse for using a known flame retardant in something that is consumed. You are right-it IS time to stop peddling poison to our kids. Thanks very much for your comment.

  12. Hi Tiffany-It really is hard to imagine how this happened. But it seems to be happening with so many processed foods. There are ingredients that don’t belong. Whole, fresh, local foods are the way to go. That’s the only way to know what we are eating!

  13. Ew is right Andrea! There’s just no need to have flame retardant in soda. Especially since there’s a viable alternative that soda companies are using in other countries.

  14. Hi Justin. I agree-not a big surprise! Water is a great alternative, unfortunately many children are drawn to soda. We don’t drink it at home, but my kids love it (sugar!). The bottom line is these companies must be held accountable for the ingredients in “food”. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. You are so welcome Marsha! It is very frustrating, but it’s important to get the info out so we can take action.

  16. Flame retardant? Good grief. At least this one is so much easier to avoid than BPA. Thank goodness.

  17. Much easier to avoid Sarah. But it’s still hard to imagine that flame retardant has made it’s way into something we consume.

  18. […] By admin var addthis_product = 'wpp-255'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};by Lori Alper, Groovy Green Livin’ […]

  19. […] pillows and car seats are doused in toxic flame retardants. Toxic chemicals are found in children’s jewelry. Early puberty, childhood cancer, infertility, […]

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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