Brominated vegetable oil may have adverse health effects: dietitian

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, has been making headlines as a new food villain.

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, has been making headlines as a new food villain.

BVO is made of the chemical element bromine combined with vegetable oil. It's sometimes used as a drink additive to ensure flavour stays dispersed throughout a beverage and doesn't separate and float to the top.

It's controversial because the synthetic additive — which is legal in Canada and the U.S., but banned in Europe and Japan — shares similar properties with certain brominated flame-retardants, and may have adverse health effects.  

"There have been some animal studies to show that ... there may be some heart effects, cancer effects, maybe some reproductive effects that aren't so great with these ... flame retardants," said Tammy Cheguis, a registered dietitian with the Sudbury and District Health Unit.

Tammy Cheguis is a registered dietician at the Sudbury and District Health Unit. (CBC)
Cheguis said for those worried about BVO in beverages, they should read the label.

"Bottom line, if there's something you don't want to eat, don't," she said. "[And], knowing that processed foods are always going to have all these additives and chemicals, eat fewer processed foods."  

Tammy Cheguis routinely speaks about food and nutrition on CBC Sudbury's Morning North radio show. Below is her conversation with host Markus Schwabe on Wednesday.

On Mobile? Click here for the audio.


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