The ingredient, Brominated vegetable oil (BVO), is used as an ingredient in Coca-Cola’s fruit and sports drinks including Fanta and Powerade, but the firm has said it will remove its use within some of its drinks by the end of the year.
The decision follows an online petition on Change.org that resulted in PepsiCo removing the ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink.
The petition, started by Sarah Kavanagh in Hattiesburg, in the US, called on PepsiCo to remove BVO after she discovered it contains bromide, which is used in brominated flame retardants.
According to Scientific American, "Brominated flame retardants lately are under intense scrutiny because research has shown that they are building up in people’s bodies, including breast milk, around the world" and that the chemical carries "links to impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones".
PepsiCo agreed to remove the use of the chemical from Gatorade last year and stated it has wider plans to remove BVO from the rest of its product portfolio.
Coca-Cola has stressed that, while it is working to remove BVO from some of its drinks, it is not over any safety issues. In addition, it has already replaced the use of BVO in two of its Powerade flavourings.
Coke told the BBC that, "All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been and comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold." It added that, "The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority."
The use of BVO as an additive in Japan and the EU is banned, but in America, drinks companies are allowed to use the ingredient at up to 15 parts per million – despite BVO having been dropped from the US Food and Drug Administration’s "Generally Recognised as Safe" list of food ingredients in the 1970s.