12 February 2014 – American blogger Vani Hari (foodbabe.com) supported by over 89,000 petition signatures* in one week, forced the world’s largest restaurant chain to remove the chemical azodicarbonamide from its bread (* signatures dated February 12, 2014).
The food additive azodicarbonamide is allowed in the US by the FDA and can be found in the EAFUS database (Everything Added to Food in the United States) among 3,000 other chemicals. It is used in baking as an additive to “strengthen the dough”, but it is lacking toxicological studies. As a dough conditioner it has an impact on the volume and texture of the baked product. It is considered as a functional additive in baking industry that improves the “quality” of bread.
Baked breads and buns contain a higher amount of azodicarbonamide degradation products such as urethane and semicarbazide, the latter causes lung cancer and blood vessels cancer in mice.
According to Vani Hari, she repeatedly wrote to Subway concerned about azodicarbonamide but never got an answer why this food additive is necessary in their sandwiches. Vani Hari decided to act by starting a petition when The First Lady of The United States endorsed this company saying every single item on the kid’s menu met the “highest nutrition standards” (as did the American Heart Association and several Olympic athletes).
Apart as an food additive azodicarbonamide is used in the production of yoga mats and shoe rubber to increase elasticity.
Subway reacted promptly this time in its official announcement and assures that will soon withdraw this additive from its breads, regardless of the fact that azodicarbonamide is approved by the FDA.
Bread, buns and baked goods in the U.S. grocery shops as well as restaurants breads contain the additive azodicarbonamide. McDonald’s, Starbucks, Arby’s and other fast food chains bakery products contain azodicarbonamide.
What You Should Know
Azodicarbonamide is banned in the United Kingdom, European Union and Australia. The World Health Organization points to several studies which are linking this chemical and asthma, but it is not yet known what amount causes adverse health effects.
Subway restaurants, and not only them, use azodicarbonamide to improve the “quality” of dough in their sandwiches, in this case in order to add more volume to the baked dough. This additive is exclusively associated with faster and cheaper production of bread, cheaper and poor quality ingredients, and company profits – but not with the nutrition and health value of the food.
Subway franchise restaurants primarily sell sandwiches and salads. At the beginning of this year (2014) they had 40,855 restaurants in 105 countries. As a major fast food advertiser in the US the company spent US$ 516 million in 2012, with the slogan “Eat Fresh”.
“Eat fresh” proves the company hypocrisy.