Thoughts for Food: What Gym Mats and Subway Sandwiches Have in Common

written by Annie on January 8, 2013 in Thoughts for Food with no comments

Warning! May cause foaming in plastic!

Ok so the title should be “What Gym Mats and Subway, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, and Entenmann’s etc. Have in Common”, but my awareness started with Subway.
I read an article by Food Babe, detailing why eating Subway isn’t “Eating Fresh” or healthy. But one sneaky ingredient caught my eye. Besides the fact that is has a long name, it is labeled by the FDA as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), you can read more on the FDA’s site here. Hmm, ring a bell? Yep, brominated vegetable oil I wrote about a few weeks ago is also on that infamous list.
The ingredient is azodicarbonamide.

What is Azodicarbonamide?

Azodicarbonamide is mainly used in foaming plastics and goes into gym mats and shoe soles among other things.
Then why is it in our food? (Well, more like food science experiments sold to the public.)
It makes bread whiter by bleaching the flour and makes dough more elastic.

Why is it Bad?

Azodicarbonamide basically can induce asthma and food allergies. It may cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to azo compounds (i.e. food dyes).
And many countries don’t allow it in their food.

Where is it Banned?

Azodicarbonamide is banned in Europe and Australia for its respiratory side effects. The UK requires labeling as a respiratory sensitizer. In Singapore, use of azodicarbonamide has a jail sentence and a $450,000 fine.

What foods is Azodicarbonamide in?

Azodicarbonamide is in breads in many fast food chains. I have seen references to Subway, McDonalds, Pizza Hut pizza crust, and Dunkin Donuts. Sorry Dad, I just read the label of our beloved Entenmann’s Cheese Filled Crumb Coffee Cake and it’s the last ingredient. It just about broke my heart. And then I couldn’t eat any and sullenly watched it disappear as my coworkers ate it.

Bottom Line

Don’t eat processed food (including fast food). And if you are buying bread, read the labels to avoid accidentally consuming azodicarbonamide. People with asthma and food dye allergies should be especially aware.