A few weeks ago it came out that the food chain Subway had the ingredient azodicarbonamide in their sandwich buns. This chemical caught the attention of consumers as it is an ingredient in such everyday (non-edible) products as yoga mats and the soles of your shoes.
As it turns out, azodicarbonamide is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration, but the World Health Organization disagrees.
Take heart, though. Subway has announced that they have been removing it from their buns in an effort to meet the demands of their consumers and continue to remain a “healthy fast food.”
Unfortunately this chemical is very common in bread products – buns, bread, and tortillas – as it helps strengthen dough. Other companies such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and Arby’s report that they are going to continue to use it in their food and many grocery stores will continue to stock these products.
Be aware that azodicarbonamide is banned in both the European Union and Australia.
The FDA states that the chemical is used as “an aging and bleaching ingredient in cereal flour in an amount not to exceed 2.05 grams per 100 pounds of flour (0.0045 percent; 45 parts per million” and as “a dough conditioner in bread baking in a total amount not to exceed 0.0045 percent (45 parts per million) by weight of the flour used.”
While this may not seem like a lot of exposure, keep in mind how many bread products the average American eats over their lifetime.
There are no in-depth studies to fully evaluate the side effects or toxicity of azodicarbonamide. However according to the World Health Organization, “case reports and epidemiological studies in humans have produced abundant evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers.”
Plus, it is an ingredient in the plastics industry. Yoga mat ingredients should probably stay in yoga mats and not be used in food.
For the average American consumer looking to be healthy, eat clean, and help the environment, stories like these can be very frustrating.