May 6, 2014

Coke and Pepsi Chemical Swap

Coca-Cola and Pepsi announced they will be removing flame retardant chemical from their drinks, but is that enough?

May 6, 2014

Jen D

Before everyone starts celebrating and stocking up on cases of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, let's see what's really going here. Both companies have announced that they are removing brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from their beverage products. The move follows a social media campaign of petitions on Change.com by people wanting it out of its drinks. BVO has been patented as a flame retardant and is usually made from genetically modified corn or soy derivatives bonded with a bromine atom. The chemical has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have stood by the safety of the ingredient, which is used to distribute flavors more evenly in fruit-flavored drink. If you've been drinking Mountain Dew, Fanta, Gatorade, Powerade, etc., you've been drinking brominated vegetable oil.

Social media sites and news outlets are applauding the removal of BVO in these beverages, but no one seems to be aware of what they're replacing it with: sucrose acetate isobutyrate.

Sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB) has shown, in a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, that dogs fed this chemical showed enlarged livers and altered liver enzyme function. Scientific studies also show that SAIB, when ingested by humans, is largely exhaled through respiration, indicating that the chemical enters the blood supply upon being ingested orally and then makes its way to the lungs.

SAIB is odorless and tasteless at levels used in beverages. It is used as weighting agent or flavor emulsion stablizer to prevent separation of essential citrus oils. It is also used as a fragrance fixative, color cosmetics, and hair care.

Although it may seem as if the consumer has won this round, in reality, big companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will always come out on top. Substituting one toxic chemical for another makes it null and void. Adverse effects associated with excessive consumption of these chemical drinks have included memory loss, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, headaches and tremors.

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