Gatorade is tweaking its formula a bit to remove a controversial additive.
It comes after concerns over the safety of a chemical after a teenager started a petition to have it removed.
Sarah Kavanagh is a volleyball player and a self-described Gatorade lover.
But after reading up on the ingredients, she dumped out the rest of the bottle she was in the middle of drinking.
Then, she launched an online petition asking the company to drop one of the additives.
“The Gatorade company in the UK doesn’t use it. They don’t think it’s necessary. So, obviously we can make the same product without this ingredient,” she said.
The substance is called brominated vegetable oil, BVO, which keeps the ingredients from separating.
Food safety activists point out it’s banned in Japan and Europe and has also been patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant, according to Scientific American.
“A couple of studies have been done. And one of them, done on animals, found that it caused behavioral problems where the animals behaved differently on these lab tests,” one expert said.
Those animal tests were at high doses. The Food and Drug Administration reiterated that at the levels used, BVO is safe and presents no health risks, based on several long-term animal studies.
Gatorade said in a statement, “While our products are safe, we are making this change because we know that some consumers have a negative perception of BVO in Gatorade, despite being permitted for use in North American and Latin American countries.”
Gatorade said over the next several months, it will switch to an alternative ingredient, but these products also contain BVO. The makers said that the products are safe, clearly labeled and approved by the FDA.
It's just the latest battleground for food safety activists. The use of BPA in plastic bottles was stopped and Starbucks stopped using ground-up bug powder for coloring its smoothies.
Social media has given consumer advocates another pressure point to get companies to change products, instead of relying on government scientists.
"You have the ability to reach out to all different kinds of bloggers and social networks, to carry the message,” the expert said.
Gatorade said while consumer concern prompted its change, it had already completed extensive taste tests for a switch before the petition. Either way, Kavanagh is looking forward to soon having her favorite sports drink again.
"I didn't expect all the attention to be brought to it. But I’m definitely grateful for it,” she said.