Earlier this year a blogger named Vani Hari, a.k.a. the Food Babe, wrote about a conditioning agent called azodicarbonamide (ADA), which is present in bread served at Subway restaurants in North America (but not Europe or Australia) and is also used in yoga mats. The story quickly gained traction on the web and caused an uproar from angry consumers who demanded the sandwich chain remove the questionable ingredient. Now, numerous health organizations have shed light on just how many of our packaged foods contain ADA.
Subway says it uses the food-grade version of ADA, which is FDA-approved and present in many other bread products including grocery store hot dog buns, fast-food bread and Starbucks bread products. Although Subway defended the use of ADA, the chain still decided to remove it from its bread and let consumers know in a recent television commercial.
Food-grade ADA earned FDA-approval in 1963, six years after a New Jersey pharmaceutical company discovered the chemical would make bread softer and more attractive. Before that time ADA was used in flip flops and foam packaging. The European Union and Australia ban ADA for use in foods. A number of health organizations (including the World Health Organization) have shown the ingredient is linked to negative side effects from asthma to skin irritations to possibly cancer. Other chemical bi-products resulting from heating ADA are also harmful to humans and banned in Europe.
The FDA only allows for 45 parts per 1 million. It says ADA is only dangerous if inhaled, but even if we’re not inhaling it, we’re eating it, and there are likely people at manufacturing plants who are inhaling this chemical unnecessarily.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) subsequently posted a report showing that 500 foods contain ADA, including 130 brands of bread. You can follow the link in the previous sentence and sign a petition on the EWG’s website to stop companies from adding ADA.
Incidents like these make it evident that too many of these large food chains and manufacturers will only change when the public demands it. The public had to say “we don’t want to eat ‘bread conditioner'” in order for Subway to remove it from its bread. Really, this is just another reason to cut bread from your unless it’s homemade or from your local farmer’s market (the other reason being wheat is one of the most common GMO crops).
Let your dollars vote by boycotting the brands in the EWG’s report and supporting your local farmers market!
What do you think about ADA in our food products?