FDA Bans Brominated Vegetable Oil, Citing Health Risks


WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is revoking the regulation that allows brominated vegetable oil (BVO) to be used in food. This decision follows studies indicating that BVO, a vegetable oil modified with bromine, may pose health risks to humans.

What is BVO?

Brominated vegetable oil has been used as an additive in some foods and beverages, primarily to stabilize flavoring oils in fruit-flavored drinks. However, recent research conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has raised concerns about its safety. The studies found potential for adverse health effects, prompting the FDA to conclude that BVO’s use is no longer considered safe.

Effective Date and Regulatory Changes

The new rule banning BVO will take effect on August 2. Jim Jones, Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods, emphasized the FDA’s commitment to reassessing the safety of chemicals used in foods as new data becomes available. “Reassessing the safety of chemicals that have been previously authorized for use in or with foods, as new, relevant data become available, is a priority for the FDA,” he said. “The removal of the only authorized use of BVO from the food supply was based on a thorough review of current science and research findings that raised safety concerns.”

The Need for Constant Food Safety Evaluation

The FDA’s decision to revoke BVO’s authorization highlights the importance of ongoing safety evaluations for food additives. Ingredients once deemed safe can become problematic as new scientific techniques and data emerge. This move underscores the FDA’s vigilance in protecting public health by revisiting past decisions and ensuring they align with current scientific understanding.

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Implications of BVO Removal

Removing BVO from the food supply could have several implications. For consumers, it means one less potentially harmful chemical in their diets. For manufacturers, it necessitates finding alternative ingredients to stabilize flavoring oils in products previously containing BVO.

The decision also sets a precedent for how the FDA might handle other food additives in the future. By demonstrating a willingness to act on new evidence, the agency reinforces its role as a guardian of public health. This proactive stance could prompt more rigorous testing and scrutiny of other additives currently in use.

The Science Behind Banning BVO

The ban on BVO is part of a larger effort to ensure the food supply remains safe. The FDA regularly reviews scientific literature and collaborates with organizations like the NIH to identify potential risks. When the evidence suggests a substance is no longer safe, the agency takes action.

This decision reflects the evolving nature of food science. As technology advances, researchers gain better tools to understand how substances interact with the human body. What was once considered safe based on older methods may be reconsidered in light of new findings.

The FDA’s revocation of BVO’s authorization marks a significant step in safeguarding public health. By basing its decision on the latest scientific research, the agency reaffirms its commitment to ensuring the safety of the food supply. As the rule takes effect in August, consumers and manufacturers alike will need to adjust, but the ultimate goal remains clear: protecting the health and well-being of the public.

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