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PepsiCo is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink in response to customer complaints.
The ingredient, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), is also used in other drinks, including some flavors of Powerade made by rival Coca-Cola Co.
PepsiCo spokeswoman Molly Carter says the removal has been in the works over the past year after the company began “hearing rumblings” from consumers.
Ingredients in food and drinks have come under greater scrutiny in recent years, helped by the ability of consumers to mobilise online.
Opposition to BVO has been highlighted in a petition on social change website Change.org. It noted the ingredient has been patented as a flame retardant and is banned in Japan and the European Union.
For Gatorade, Carter said the ingredient is used as an “emulsifier,” meaning it distributes flavouring evenly so that it doesn’t collect at the surface. She said it was used only in select varieties including Orange and Citrus Cooler.
Other drinks that use BVO include Coca-Cola’s Fanta and PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew.
Ms Carter notes the ingredient is not banned by the US Food and Drug Administration and that PepsiCo’s decision is not the result of any health or safety concerns.
She says it is specifically a response to concerns expressed by Gatorade customers.