You've probably never heard of the compound azodicarbonamide, but it's found in things like shoe soles, yoga mats and, yes, some bread products.
Photo credit: Brendan Howard/Shutterstock
After a food blog launched an online petition calling out Subway for using the chemical in some of its breads, the sandwich chain announced Wednesday that it would stop.
Azodicarbonamide is an aging and bleaching ingredient used in some flour, which can help bread products stay fresher longer. It is allowed by the Food and Drug Administration for direct human consumption at 45 parts per million in flour. The World Health Organization, noting that azodicarbonamide is most commonly used as a blowing agent in rubber and plastics industries, said that while there are not adequate studies to link it to carcinogenic or reproductive toxicity, there is "abundant evidence" that it can cause "asthma, other respiratory symptoms and skin sensitization in exposed workers." Once used in the U.K. in bread-making and the plastics industry, it has since been banned. The compound has also been used in food-sealing applications, like on gaskets, but that has since been discontinued as well.
These symptoms seem to be linked to exposure to azodicarbonamide from direct contact through the skin and through inhalation.
Vani Hari, who runs the blog FoodBabe, has attacked the continued use of azodicarbonamide in the United States before, but more recently called out Subway's use of it in bread products, creating a petition against it.
"This is not eating fresh!" Hari's petition said of the compound.
A petition to get Subway to stop using the compound azodicarbonamide in some of its breads. (Image source: FoodBabe)
Consumers as a result lashed out against Subway, but the company told the Associated Press the petition didn't drive its decision to stop using the product.
"We are already in the process of removing azodiacarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is USDA and FDA approved ingredient," the company said in a statement, according to USA Today. "The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon."
Watch this report about the company's move from WGN-TV:
Hari told USA Today in an email that she commends Subway for responding to the more than 58,000 people who had submitted a petition.
"Their swift action is a testament to what power petitions and individuals can have," Hari said. " I'd like to note that current Subway sandwiches still have this ingredient, and I urge everyone not to eat their sandwich bread until they have finally removed the chemical."
(H/T: Daily Mail)