Food allergies: Mom petitions to rid drinks of BVO

Jake, 7, ended up in the ER after sipping on a sports drink containing brominated vegetable oil, or BVO. Photo: Jeanee Layman

A local mother is on a mission to protect children from unsuspecting allergens in sports drinks. Her fight stemmed from her son’s horrible allergic reaction to a sports drink.

Last Saturday’s little league game was the best of 7-year-old Jake Layman’s young life.

“My triple went into the fence,” he says.

Afterward, he and his teammates celebrated with a popular sports drink.

“I took five sips and then went to my brother’s baseball game itching bad,” Jake says. “More bumps kept coming and coming.”

“I saw then he had welts all over his chest and back,” says Jeanee Layman, his mother.

Layman knew her son was allergic to soy, but he’d never had a reaction like this. She thought her son was going into anaphylactic shock.

After visiting the ER and taking Benadryl and steroids this week, Layman zeroed in on an ingredient she hadn’t noticed before: brominated vegetable oil, or BVO.

“It’s illegal in 100 other countries. I was told the vegetable is soybean. I believe it should be listed on a label,” she says.

But Layman also found out, according to the FDA, if BVO is made from highly refined oil, labeling is not required under the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act.

“I don’t understand that,” she says. “I believe it is a drink that gave him anaphylaxis.”

This week, Layman posted a petition to urge Coke and Pepsi to label their products anyway or dump BVO altogether.

“I hope they take it off shelves,” she says.

And Jake hopes to be well enough to knock another one to the fence this weekend.

A similar petition with 200,000 signatures convinced Pepsi to stop putting BVO in Gatorade this year. That will take full effect this spring.{ }

ABC7 asked Coca Cola if it plans to follow suit with Powerade. The company released the following statement:{ }

"We are in contact with the family and wish the consumer speedy recovery. The safety of our products is our number one priority, and we are taking this matter very seriously. Our products comply with all federal labeling regulations."