Gatorade Removing Controversial Ingredient But Denies It’s Because Of Teen’s Campaign

A few weeks after a 15-year-old started an online petition to tell Gatorade to get rid of brominated vegetable oil, an ingredient linked to flame retardants, its parent company PepsiCo says it’s pulling the controversial ingredient from the sports drink. But not because of that petition, says the company. Nope, because of everyone else who was complaining. 

A spokeswoman made sure the distinction was clear, saying the company began “hearing rumblings” in the past year from consumers concerned about the ingredient, reports the Associated Press. She reportedly said it was not a response to the Mississippi teen’s Change.org petition. Because she’s not a consumer that rumbled in the past year?

The teen’s petition highlighted the fact that brominated vegetable oil has been patented as a flame retardant and is considered unsafe for consumption in Japan as well as by the European Union. As of today the petition she started had more than 200,000 supporters.

PepsiCo’s spokeswoman says its’ used as an emulsifier so that flavoring doesn’t get clumpy. It’s also used in other drinks like Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola products like Fanta and some Powerade flavors. She says the move is not because the company thinks BVO is unsafe, but to address concerns expressed specifically by Gatorade customers. Again — not, ostensibly, the Mississippi teen’s concerns. Just everyone else’s.

As for the teen, named Sarah, she said via a press release from Change.org that she’s excited about how things have turned out.

“When I went to Change.org to start my petition, I thought it might get a lot of support because no one wants to gulp down flame retardant, especially from a drink they associate with being healthy,” she said. “But with Gatorade being as big as they are, sometimes it was hard to know if we’d ever win. This is so, so awesome.”

“Companies like Gatorade put so much thought into marketing,” she added. “As someone who loves to drink their products, I’m so glad they’re making strides to put as much consideration into their customers’ health.”

She started her petition after researching the ingredients in a Gatorade she was drinking, and was inspired in part by a Scientific American article that linked BVO to ill health effects, especially in children.

Gatorade to remove controversial ingredient [Associated Press]