This 15-year-old helped convince PepsiCo to stop putting a flame-retardant chemical in Gatorade
We wrote last month about Sarah Kavanagh, a Mississippi teenager who realized that Gatorade contained brominated vegetable oil — a compound that has too much in common with flame retardants for our taste — and decided to do something about it. She started a petition on Change.org asking PepsiCo to stop using this stuff. And, on Friday, PepsiCo announced that it would be dropping brominated vegetable oil.
The company says that it has been looking into alternatives for a year (though it credits “customer feedback” with getting the ball rolling) — Kavanagh’s petition, it says, convinced it to make a big announcement. But we’re still counting it as a win, and so is she. The New York Times reports:
“I was in algebra class and one of my friends kicked me and said, ‘Have you seen this on Twitter?’” Ms. Kavanagh said in a phone interview on Friday evening. “I asked the teacher if I could slip out to the bathroom, and I called my mom and said, ‘Mom, we won.’”
PepsiCo’s still saying that brominated vegetable oil’s no big deal, but, you know, the customer’s always right. The oil’s in the drink to begin with to keep the citrus flavor compounds from separating out; now that function will be served by “sucrose acetate isobutyrate.” Apparently the FDA thinks this one’s safe, more or less, but we feel that much more secure knowing that if there’s a problem with this strange compound, Kavanagh will be on the case. “I’ve been thinking about ways to take this to the next level,” she told the Times.
- PepsiCo Will Halt Use of Additive in Gatorade, The New York Times
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