Mountain Dew. The oh so sweet is it yellow? is it green? nectar of the geek gods and fuel for gamers has flame retardent in it. Yup. Mountain Dew, along with 10 per cent of sodas in the US, contains brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a flame retardant chemical banned in Europe and Japan.
The flame retardent, BVO, is currently listed as an ingredient in various citrus soft drinks such as: Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange, Powerade Strawberry Lemonade and Fresca Original Citrus.
But why and what for? According to the Environmental Health News, BVO contains "bromine atoms which weigh down the citrus flavoring so it mixes with sugar water" instead of floating to the top. Basically, BVO gives soda more consistent flavoring. That sounds good! But BVO is also added to polystyrene foam cushions in furniture and plastics in electronics because BVO can slow down the chemical reactions that cause a fire. Yuck. Is that what we want to be drinking?
So how the hell if BVO is banned in foods in Europe and Japan, does BVO still exist here? Well, back in 1977, the FDA set what they thought was a "safe" limit for BVO in sodas and soda companies have been allowed to use BVO ever since. Seriously! That's the only reason! Scientists believe that the data the FDA looked at in the 1970s is outdated (ya think?) and that BVO needs a closer look. The EHN says:
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. Other studies suggest that BVO could be building up in human tissues, just like other brominated compounds such as flame retardants. In mouse studies, big doses caused reproductive and behavioural problems.