Meet the girl who stood up to Gatorade

orange gatorade

What did you do when you were 16? Sarah Kavanaugh got Gatorade to change its formula.

When 16-year-old Sarah Kavanagh discovered that the orange Gatorade she liked to guzzle contained a chemical used in flame retardants — brominated vegetable oil, or BVO — she started a petition at Change.org asking the company to remove the controversial ingredient. Gatorade got the message loud and clear  — the company recently pledged to remove BVO from its beverages.

The high school sophomore says an article in Scientific American about BVO’s link to contaminated breast milk, fertility problems and abnormal thyroid hormones got her thinking about doing the petition.

“When I went to Change.org to start my petition, I thought it might get a lot of support because no one wants to gulp down flame retardant, especially from a drink they associate with being healthy,” Kavanagh said. “But with Gatorade being as big as they are, sometimes it was hard to know if we’d ever win.”

But Pepsi, which owns Gatorade, was willing to change. On Jan. 25, they said they would begin removing BVO from the drink.

Kavanagh’s story has captured the attention of USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and “The Dr. Oz Show,” which featured her on Wednesday’s show.

“Americans vote with their pocketbook each time they purchase food and beverages, and the announcement last week demonstrates that even large companies respond to consumer concerns,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz, the host of “The Dr. Oz Show.” “Let us all draw inspiration from Sarah’s example that one person can make a difference, and we can all build a safer, healthier world through determination and cooperation.”

Kavanagh is now working on a similar petition for Powerade.


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