NEW YORK (AP) - PepsiCo Inc. is removing a controversial ingredient from its Gatorade sports drink following customer complaints.
A spokeswoman for the company, Molly Carter, said Friday that the move was in the works for the past year after the company began "hearing rumblings" from consumers about the ingredient. She said it wasn't a response to a recent petition on Change.org by a Mississippi teenager.
The ingredient is also listed in other drinks, including some flavors of Powerade, made by rival Coca-Cola Co. A representative for the Atlanta-based company wasn't immediately available to comment on whether it would remove the ingredient as well.
The petition on Change.org noted that the ingredient, brominated vegetable oil, has been patented as a flame retardant and is banned in Japan and the European Union. It had more than 200,000 supporters Friday.
For Gatorade, Carter said the ingredient is used as an "emulsifier," meaning it distributes flavoring more evenly so that it doesn't collect at the surface. She said it was only used in select flavors including such as orange and citrus. Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is still used in other PepsiCo drinks, such as Mountain Dew, she said.
Carter noted that the ingredient is not banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and that the decision to remove the ingredient wasn't the result of any health or safety concerns. She said it was to address concerns expressed specifically by Gatorade customers.
PepsiCo's decision to remove the ingredient from Gatorade was first reported by the trade journal Beverage Digest.
(The Associated Press)