The Food and Drug Administration is revoking permission for food companies to use brominated vegetable oil.

The revocation goes into effect on Aug. 2 with a compliance date one year after. The delay is to allow companies to reformulate, relabel, and deplete the inventory of BVO-containing products before the FDA begins enforcing the final rule.

According to the FDA, brominated vegetable oil (BVO) has been approved for use in citrus-flavored soft drinks. Companies use BVO to help emulsify these drinks, preventing them from separating during distribution.

“The FDA has regulated BVO as a food additive since the agency removed it from the codified list of Generally Recognized As Safe or ‘GRAS’ substances in 1970,” according to the agency’s announcement about the revocation. “As authorized, it was used in small amounts to keep the citrus flavoring from floating to the top in some beverages, and manufacturers were required to list BVO, or the specific brominated vegetable oil such as brominated soybean oil, in the ingredients list if it was used. Few beverages in the U.S. contain BVO.

“The agency concluded that the intended use of BVO in food is no longer considered safe after the results of studies conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found the potential for adverse health effects in humans.”

Reassessing the safety of food ingredients as new, relevant data becomes available is a priority for the FDA and a key part of its food safety mission.

The FDA took public comments before deciding to revoke permission to use BVO. The agency received more than 40 comments on the proposed rule. All comments supported revoking authorization for using BVO as an ingredient in food. However, some comments asked the agency to act against other substances, such as color additives, preservatives, and “harmful” chemicals.

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