Coca-Cola to Eliminate Controversial Ingredient from Its Beverages

July 12, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. controversial /ˌkɒn trəˈvɜr ʃəl(adj.) – referring to a subject which may raise attention or debate
Example: That movie he made about politics was really controversial.

2. retardant /rɪˈtɑrdnt/ (n.) – a substance that slows down the effect or reaction of something
Example: It is safe to use flame retardant carpets at home.

3. conscious /ˈkɒn ʃəs/ (adj.) – being fully mindful of something
Example: I have to be conscious of what I eat to avoid any health problem.

4. petition /pəˈtɪʃən/ (n.) – a formal document about a specific request or cause that is signed by many people
Example: The organization spearheaded a petition to stop illegal logging in the country.

5. garner /ˈgɑr nər/ (v.) – to get or acquire something
Example: The company’s initiative garnered a handful of positive comments from its customers.


Read the text below.
Coca-cola announced that it will drop brominated vegetable oil (or BVO), a controversial ingredient, from its products.

Brominated vegetable oil contains bromine– a chemical present in flame retardants found in some manufactured materials such as plastic and textiles. The function of this chemical is to delay the production of flames.

Coca-cola claims that all the ingredients it uses are all safe. They mainly use BVO to distribute the flavors evenly, most especially in fruit-flavored drinks. However, most consumers wanted the products to be more natural and organic since they have started to become conscious of their health.

According to medical studies, excessive consumption of drinks containing BVO greatly affects one’s health. A person may suffer memory loss, skin diseases, and nerve problems.

Sarah Kavanagh, a 17-year-old teenager from Mississippi, made a petition asking Coca-cola to remove BVO from Powerade drinks. In the website, Kavanagh garnered 60,000 signatures. She noted that the ingredient was not approved for use in the European Union and in Japan.

Coca-cola responded positively and said that it will be removing the harmful ingredient from all of its products. The company will be replacing the ingredient with sucrose acetate isobutyrate and glycerol ester of rosin. Kavanagh expressed her deepest gratitude and said that Coca-cola is a big company that cares about what consumers think.

Kavanagh also petitioned PepsiCo to do the same thing. The petition gathered about 200,000 signatures. PepsiCo said that it has started removing BVO from Gatorade in 2013. Since then, the company has been working on eliminating the ingredient from the rest of its products.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you buy Coca-cola products? Why or why not?
·         Given the chance, would you also sign the petition Sarah Kavanagh made? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         In what other ways could a company show that it values its consumers’ opinion?
·         Do you believe that customers are always right? Why or why not?

July 12, 2014