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If you ever doubted the power of one consider this. The world's largest beverage-maker, Coca-Cola, plans to remove a controversial ingredient from some of its US and Canada drink brands by the end of this year, following an online petition.

Brominated vegetable oil or BVO is used as a stabiliser in fruit-flavoured drinks to help prevent ingredients from separating. Medical researchers at the Mayo Clinic state excessive consumption of soft drinks containing BVO has been linked to negative health effects, including reports of memory loss and skin and nerve problems.

Coca-Cola's decision to remove BVO from its drink reflects a growing move among companies to reconsider certain practices due to public pressure. The campaign against the use of BVO was begun by Sarah Kavanagh, a teenager from Mississippi, who questioned why the ingredient was being used in drinks targeted at health-conscious athletes. Thousands of people have since signed her online petition on Change.org to have BVO removed from drinks.

Currently, BVO, is found in Coca-Cola fruit and sports drinks such as Fanta and Powerade. In Japan and the European Union, the use of BVO as a food additive is not allowed and Coca-Cola's rival Pepsi has plans to remove the ingredient from its entire product portfolio. BVO was dropped from the US Food and Drug Administration's "Generally Recognised as Safe" list of food ingredients in 1970. However, drinks companies in the US and Canada are allowed to use BVO at up to 15 parts per million.