BY: PAULA ESPARZA
Have you ever bitten into your Subway sandwich or Dollar Menu burger and thought to yourself that the bread tasted a little rubbery?
Subway restaurants have been the target of media attention due to the discovery of a chemical compound called azodicarbonamide (ADA), typically found in foam like objects such as flip-flops and yoga mats, for its baked goods, according to the Environmental Working Group.
As it turns out Subway is only one of many companies that uses this chemical for its bread products. Restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks and companies’ like Little Debbie, Pillsbury, Sarah Lee and Smuckers all list ADA as an ingredient for many of their products.
There are nearly 500 foods in today’s market that contain the same chemical compound and it is uncertain if this product is safe. During ADA’s breakdown, it creates various different chemical compounds one of which is semicarbazide (SEM), according to the World Health Organization. Studies have shown that long exposure to SEM poses the threat of creating tumors in female mice. There have also been reports that workers exposed to ADA have respiratory problems and run the risk of developing asthma.
The FDA should take ADA off the list of acceptable food additives.
ADA is used to speed up the process of baking while still ensuring the bread maintains that fluffy and spongy. It is unessential and only used because it is cost efficient and helps the products maintain a light consistency feel to them and prevents the bread from falling apart.
The use of azodicarbonamide is unnecessary and manufacturers should stop using it in their products. Bread is easily prepared and does not need these chemical enhancers to be enjoyable. Bread is consumed by billions of people every day, including children, and it is important to that this food is not riddled with chemicals.
As consumers it should be up to us to know what we are putting into our bodies, but it is also the responsibility of the FDA to regulate these potentially harmful additives in our foods. The use of this chemical is banned in many European countries and offenders can be fined a hefty fee of $450,000 and can face possible jail time.
Subway is working on removing the ingredient from its products, and if they can do it other companies can join in on the change. Because of the explosion of negative reactions from sandwich-eaters on social media, Subway felt extreme pressure to comply with the demands of the public. So, who’s to say this sort of controversy won’t happen again when McDonald’s or Pillsbury customers find out that these companies use similar practices?
Although the FDA lists azodicarbonamide as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) they have yet to conduct thorough research and have not explored all the potential health hazards posed by consuming the product.
At the end of the day, ADA is a chemical and not food, which is why we should not be putting it inside our bodies.