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E443; Brominated Vegetable Oil
(in 34 products)

Potential Risk Index®:

ISCE InhaleISCE SwallowISCE ContactISCE Environment
PRI Legend


1. Emulsifier - Allows water and oils to remain mixed together to form an emulsion.
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is a complex mixture of plant-derived triglycerides that have been reacted to contain atoms of the element bromine bonded to the molecules. Brominated vegetable oil is used primarily to help emulsify citrus-flavored soft drinks, preventing them from separating during distribution. Brominated vegetable oil has been used by the soft drink industry since 1931, generally at a level of about 8 ppm. [1]
It is not approved to use as food additive (E443) in EU.
Recent Findings:
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is made by adding bromine to vegetable oil in order to help emulsify citrus flavoring into soda beverages. It is possible for bromine molecules to dissociate from BVO which may cause neurological symptoms over time. The Mayo Clinic (US) also reports that "Long-term exposure can cause neurologic symptoms such as headache, memory loss, and impaired balance or coordination". BVO has now been removed from US FDA GRAS list, but it remains legal to be used in food substances.
The use of BVOs results in organobromine bioaccumulation, where "the average daily human intake of BVO exceeds the intake of other organobromine compounds, e.g., polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), by >4000 times for adults and >1000 times for children". [2]
BVOs fed to adult Sprague-Dawley rats for 2 weeks prior to mating also resulted in severe detrimental effects,
"BVO at 2.0% of the diet completely blocked reproduction. BVO at 1.0% of the diet severely impaired conception, reduced maternal body weight, and produced slightly reduced litter sizes but no evidence of malformations". [3] Even at 0.5% concentration, impairment is observed, "BVO at 0.5% of the diet produced less reproductive interference and much less offspring mortality or impairment of growth, but produced behavioral impairments almost as severe as seen in the BVO 1.0% group". [3]"Walter Vetter, a food chemist at Germany's University of Hohenheim who has studied brominated vegetable oil, told Environmental Health News that "the scientific data is scarce" surrounding BVO, and it merits further study."
There is a possibility of bromine separating out and dissociating from BVO, please see "Bromine" for further information.
1Source has flagged this ingredient as a potential "bromine-releaser". It is in the interest of public health and safety to reduce the consumption of organohalogens.
Scientific References:
1. Brominated vegetable oil in soft drinks – an underrated source of human organobromine intake. (Food Chem., 133(3), 678–682.) doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2012.01.058
2. Behavioral and reproductive effects of chronic developmental exposure to brominated vegetable oil in rats. (Teratology, 28(3), 309–318.) doi:10.1002/tera.1420280302
Regulatory References:
1. Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety
- Brominated Vegetable Oils in Beverages - Food Safety Focus (96th Issue, July 2014)
2. E-numbers which are not found in EU FOOD
- "E443"
3. Canada List of Permitted Food Additives
- List 8 - Brominated vegetable oil

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