Your Powerade Is Now Free of Flame Retardant

Coca-Cola is doing away with bromated vegetable oil in its popular sports drink.

(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

May 5, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

That Powerade you slammed after working out the other day is now more likely to catch on fire. Not that it would light if you took a match to it, today or yesterday. But if you’ve ever scanned through the many unfamiliar ingredients that comprise the sports drink, you may have noticed bromated vegetable oil on the list. In addition to being a stabilizer, keeping the oils that flavor the beverage suspended in the liquid, it’s also a flame retardant.

As a food additive, it’s banned (like so many other chemicals we regularly ingest) in the European Union and Japan. Coca-Cola is finally giving it the boot too.

Bromated vegetable oil use in the beverage industry is widespread, but a recent petition by Sarah Kavanagh, a Mississippi teenager, has apparently led Coca-Cola to change its approach. According to a company spokesperson interviewed by the Associated Press, Powerade is now “BVO-free,” although it appears that the controversial ingredient is still in the process of being phased out; it still appears on the ingredient list for certain flavors. The change puts Powerade in line with PepsiCo’s Gatorade, which dropped bromated vegetable oil last year.

In her petition, Kavanagh questioned why a beverage that’s sold to athletes would contain an ingredient that can cause a slew of medical problems if consumed in excess. The symptoms of bromism, the syndrome caused by consuming too much bromine, include hallucinations, terrible rashes, and severe gastrointestinal problems. Surely healthy athletes shouldn’t be taking in even low amounts of bromine in the form of bromated vegetable oil if the ingredient is that opposed to their health-conscious lifestyle. But it’s not like your average slightly overweight orange-soda drinkers are cool with consuming something like BMO either, even if they aren’t paragons of good health. So maybe it’s time to just kill the ingredient across the board.