Friday, February 7, 2014

Bread without foamy plastic please

In another example of how lax chemical regulation is in the United States is versus the rest of the world, Subway announced that it is removing the chemical azodicarbonamide from its breads sold in the US.  Among their breads that have, up to now, contained this chemical: the 9 grain wheat, 9 grain honey oat, italian white, italian herbs & parmesan/ oregano, toasted garlic sourdough and Monterrey cheddar.  The franchise does not use this chemical in their breads outside of the US.  Why is that?  Well, azodicarbonamide, is banned in numerous countries, so the same breads sold in the US are made successfully outside of the US without the toxic chemical... but since there is no ban in the United States we got to eat bread with added chemicals here.

Unfortunately the chemical is not only used by Subway;  it is found in other commonly consumed breads  (Wonder Bread among others) and well known fast food chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken also use it. 

What is azodicarbonamide? 
Azodicarbonamide is a chemical used to produce " foamed plastics" and is commonly found in yoga mats ( note to self : might want to look into getting a non toxic yoga mat) and rubber shoes. Azodicarbonamide is also a food additive and flour bleaching agent ( makes bread whiter) commonly added to bread in the US. 

Is it toxic? 
According to a 1999 World Health Organization study, azodicarbonamide induces asthma in humans. It has also been linked to obesity. As a food additive, it is banned in Australia and Europe.  The FDA in the US allows small quantities of azodicarbonamide to be added to food. They have not studied the chemical's effects or cumulative effects on humans. 

What to do?
Do you want your family ingesting a chemical that is used in plastics? Probably not, so it is a good thing that Subway is taking this chemical out of their breads (especially since it is obviously not necessary since they sell breads without the chemical outside of the US). 

 However, since the chemical is commonly found in other breads it is important to read food labels carefully.  Stay away from breads ( and all food) with ingredients you cant pronounce... especially azodicarbonamide.  It is that easy!

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