Mountain Ew!

Don’t get me wrong: I loves me some soft drinks. I enjoy destroying the enamel on my teeth and torturing my stomach lining as much as the next guy. And just like those tattooed stoner guys who make their living finding new ways to mangle themselves, I thought Mountain Dew was akin to nectar squeezed from the ample and undulating bosom of Aphrodite. But then I learned it contained something called “Brominated Vegetable Oil” (BVO). The vegetable oil part by itself wouldn’t have been enough to get me to kick the goddess squeezins, but that b-word perturbed me. It sounded… unpleasant. It hearkened to a darker time when powerful men were sexually stifled and seriously pissed-off about it and due process was yet unborn: “Thou hast been found guilty of buggery and are sentenced to have thine naughty bits… brominated! So be it before Almighty God!”

Anyway, being the consummate word-geek*, I looked it up.

bro-min-ate, v., to combine (a substance) with bromine or a bromine compound.

Ah. And…

bro-mine, n. a heavy, volatile, corrosive, reddish-brown, nonmetallic liquid element, having a highly irritating vapor and used chiefly in the manufacture of gasoline antiknock mixtures, fumigants, dyes, and photographic chemicals.

*strokes chin* M-hm, m-hm. I see what you’re saying there. Basically, you’re telling me I’ve been paying PepsiCo to FEED ME FUCKING STOP BATH FOR THE PAST TWENTY YEARS!!!!

Of course, I have NO faith that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has any real concern about my health, so I decided to find out what they had to say about this allowance of an oil-bromine mixture in my pop. Figured it be good for a groan. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 / Chapter I / Part 180 / Subpart B / Section 30, BVO is allowable as an additive "…pending the outcome of additional toxicological studies on which periodic reports at 6-month intervals are to be furnished and final results submitted to the Food and Drug Administration." Now, you know they don't need bi-annual toxology reports on something they are completely confident isn't harmful, so I became even more curious.

I didn't have to look long to learn BVO causes bromine to accumulate in pig fat and has caused liver lesions in laboratory rats. But we all know about how they just pump those lab animals with a kajillion times the normal ingested amount, so I looked for data specific to humans. According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), observations in human tissues and organs showed "…high levels of lipid-bound bromine only in that country which permitted the use of brominated vegetable oil as a food additive." Ugh. The IPCS goes on to state: "Lipid-bound bromine increased in organ fat in an age-related manner and levels were much higher in the fat extracted from brain, liver and spleen than from adipose tissue."

What all this meant to me is that I had been drinking gas treatment for the past couple of decades and it was all just up there soakin’ my brain. Can’t say I liked the thought of that.

From now on, I gotta go with all natural.

*If I love words so much, why does the word for “word-geek escape me? Fuck.

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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28 Responses to Mountain Ew!

  1. Street Vein says:

    Oh, great… I just bought a 2-liter of it, and it's sitting in the fridge right now — waiting for me.I once had a snack of Doritos and Mountain Dew… IMAGE: neon orange washed down with nuclear green/yellow… a very unsettling combination of unnatural colors. Pour M.Dew into a white foam cup and it becomes very obvious this drink is not right. I don't even think Crayola makes crayons that color.

  2. tom says:

    The only things resembling Mountain Dew–at least in my additive-addled brain–are Prestone antifreeze and the chemical goo Melvin the Mop Boy fell into in "Toxic Avenger." Neither of these is especially appetizing. But the Dew is so refreshing and life-affirming, that I never imagined there'd be a link. Thanks to you, Kirk, for promulgating the appalling truth about BVO. Dammit, now I have to find another beverage with anti-knock benefits.

  3. Artzy Lady says:

    Holy Crap! If I drank this stuff then this information would freak me out. I haven't had a Mt Dew since… hmmm… 1990! Have not missed it a moment. You won't either. There are lots of marvelous things to drink that won't pickle your gizzard and embalm your brain.

  4. SweetMisery says:

    What a mind blower. We did the nail thing with a coke in high school biology didn't stop me. No No. ugh

  5. Jenni says:

    Wow. That sounds just… really awful! I've read Fastfood Nation (and was appalled. Appalled I tell you!) but how can that be legal? And why would they want to put it in there to begin with. If it's banned in most countries (and mountain dew is sold over here in Thousandlakez too. We practically ban standing next to a smoker but I'll still take a look at the bottle next time) then I suppose the ingredient would be one Mountain Dew can go without. Right?

  6. bouche says:

    !:-p I know so many people who suck it down like there's no tomorrow. I would have some every now and then, but probably not anymore. I'm always surprised when I read ingredient labels for their content. Surprised and usually left with more room in the shopping cart!

  7. Melissa says:

    That's nasty. I think that's the reason why they stopped selling Mountain Dew here. I've never seen it sold for quite some time here now.

  8. Brown Suga' says:

    Ewwww! I've been avoiding aerated drinks for 5 years now, thought I let up twice or thrice… but now I'm DEFINITELY going to avoid them!

  9. Drude says:

    I have been interested in legal exposure limits to chemicals and radiation in different countries. See, some chemicals are safe up to a certain amount because your body can eliminate them and there is a clear consensus of how much you can take per weight per time without ill effects. Other things are unsafe from the very first molecule you encounter (anything that causes cancer for instance and stuff you accumulate). So scientists cannot determine a clear limit for what's safe in the second kind of chemicals (and radiation). Politicians decide where these limits should be depending on economic interests, health interests and "don't panic"/"we can't clean up the entire planet" interests… I have seen several times that pollution caused values for say drinking water to exceed the previously allowed values….. then politicians just change the "safe" amount to a higher value because that's the only thing that makes sense.. I started realizing this when radiation levels increased after the Chernobyl accident… First, we couldn't drink the milk and eat the berries… then they changed the rules to make more sense…. quietly everything became safe again…… or did it?

  10. Roboco says:

    dude.
    when i was a lifeguard, we used to use bromine in our pools instead of chlorine — had the same effect but didn't smell quite as bad. can't be good for your insides if we're using it to kill stuff before said-stuff gets in you. gross.
    p.s. if you like soda, have you tried Steaz? you can't find them everywhere, but they're organic, they're green-tea based (and therefore all-natural), and they taste GOOD. i especially enjoy their energy drinks!

  11. Red Mosquito says:

    I drink two (12 ounce can or 20 ounce bottle) a day. And I really don't plan on stopping. Yeah, this sounds bad. But at this point EVERYTHING will kill us. And I don't want to live to be 120 and have to watch everything I eat/breathe/drink/put on/smell/touch. What's the fun in that?
    Thanks for the information, I wonder how many other soft drinks contain that additive?

  12. Kirk says:

    "And why would they want to put it in there to begin with." The way I understand it, citrus flavorings are fat-soluble, so pops like Mountain Dew require vegetable oil to keep them suspended in the beverage. As we all know, oil and water are immiscible, so the bromine is bonded with the oil to act as an emulsifier.

  13. Kirk says:

    "…can't be good for your insides if we're using it to kill stuff before said-stuff gets in you."You know, I've always held the same basic logic about eating liver. Why would I eat the one organ that filters out all the toxins?
    "p.s. if you like soda, have you tried Steaz?" I have not, but I see from their Where to Buy page that it sold just a stone's throw down the road from me. I assume they don't come cheap, am I right?

  14. Roboco says:

    they aren't as cheap as a Coke or Sprite, that's for sure. but they're much much more delicious! AND you can feel good about drinking them because they aren't turning your insides a horrible color. try just one — and let me know what you think.

  15. Kirk says:

    "I drink two (12 ounce can or 20 ounce bottle) a day. And I really don't plan on stopping."Have at. I have another friend, guy I used to work with (hi, Andrew!), who will read this and say the very same thing. "Thanks for the information, I wonder how many other soft drinks contain that additive?" I know it's also in Fresca, Orange Fanta, and Orange Slice. I think Gatorade has it, as well. I'm sure there are others.

  16. Kirk says:

    Well, I've been paying about seventeen bucks a case for Coca-cola imported from Mexico made with real cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, so if they're as good as you say, then I'm on board. I only drink pop occasionally anyway.

  17. Kirk says:

    "I have seen several times that pollution caused values for say drinking water to exceed the previously allowed values….. then politicians just change the 'safe' amount to a higher value…" I've read of this somewhere before. I think Carl Hiaasen dealt with it in his wonderfully twisted way in one of his novels. I used to think that having an allowable amount of stuff like animal hair and droppings in food was bad, but this seems so much worse.When I first began researching this, the U.S. was the only country that allowed BVO as a food additive. I can't find anything to support that now, however.

  18. mariser says:

    I dunno "word-geek", but "word-lover" would be philologist; is that close enough?

  19. Kirk says:

    "…would be philologist; is that close enough?" That is precisely the word I was looking for. Thank you, mariser.

  20. K. says:

    Wow, that's beyond disturbing. My roommate drinks several mountain dews every day. She says it's better for her because it's "clear."
    I think not, good sir. I think not.

  21. Miz Blo says:

    Oh did you know that Dr Pepper is made with anti-freeze. yep it is.

  22. Kirk says:

    "Oh did you know that Dr Pepper is made with anti-freeze." You know, I had heard that. I thought it sounded too strange to be true and so I looked into it. Turns out, it's a rumor started on ignorance of chemistry. Basically, antifreeze is ethylene glycol, whereas the last ingredient in Dr. Pepper is polyethylene glycol, which is a polymerized version of what we use as antifreeze. Unlike the blend of bromine and oil I mentioned in the post, this particular polymer is actually very complex and highly inert. So, you can keep on drinking the Dr. Pepper if you want without fear of ingesting engine coolant. 🙂

  23. Kzinti says:

    Well that's a relief. Cause when I want a soda, it's usually a Pepper or a Jones Cream Soda…

  24. erin*carly says:

    Basically, you’re telling me I’ve been paying PepsiCo to FEED ME FUCKING STOP BATH FOR THE PAST TWENTY YEARS!!!!i'm sorry, but that's the funniest thing i've heard all day. (mostly because i've probably absorbed more than my share of stop bath through my skin in my years as a design and photo major in college.)

  25. Kirk says:

    Ha ha! Thanks. I put that joke in there for my daughter Amanda who hopes to one day be a professional photographer. Glad you got a kick out of it.

  26. erin*carly says:

    ooooh, go her! let me tell you, it's incredibly rewarding. and remind her, it's not about the equipment you have. any monkey can use a big fancy camera or hi-tech lighting kit and get a decent shot. it's the eye and skill of the photographer that makes a great photo.

  27. Kirk says:

    I have indeed been reinforcing this very notion. I think she has a wonderful eye for photos; she just needs to really hone her skills into a personal style. Plus, she's been a trooper at exchanging her beloved enlarger and chemicals for a laptop computer and Photoshop. 🙂

  28. erin*carly says:

    having a film background is SO key. i still find digital a luxury, being able to take multiple exposures to make sure i get it right. i took my film camera with me to Israel (i had been working in digital for about a year, but the D1X i had weighed a ton and had terrible battery life) . . i was actually nervous about getting good photos! thankfully, film was like riding a bike. if she ever wants to talk to someone who has worked at a newspaper before, let me know. i worked for a small one for about a year and a half, and i *love* talking shop. 🙂

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