Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is a chemical that is found not only in yoga mats, but also in some 500 foods. It is why Subway’s commitment to taking it out of their breads is not as reassuring as once thought. The Center for Consumer Freedom reports that ADA is simply an oxidizing agent that makes for easier dough conditioning, which allows bread to be made from fresh flour. Flour would have to be aged several months after milling before it could be kneaded and made into bread previous to the use of ADA. The Center says that the recent “food scare” is a baseless means of baking fear into the hearts of bread eaters.
ADA was created in 1956, and was a safer substitute for its dough conditioning predecessor, potassium bromate. Approximately 130 other food producers use ADA in their packaged foods. It is found in hot dogs, margarine, sausages, and toaster treats, to name just a few. Of course, a lot of the foods that contain this chemical were never very healthy for consumers in the first place.
The Environmental Working Group, (EWG), has sounded a warning to all that they should avoid eating food products that contain azodicarbonamide. The EWG states that the chemical is not necessary for the food, but manufacturers rebut that statement. They say to successfully produce and package foods to be distributed to stores, they need ADA to give the breads and other products fluff and to protect it from breaking up during transport.
Azodicarbonamide is in yoga mats and 500 foods. The news is not as shocking as it might be, since food processing has relied on chemical preservatives for decades. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the dough conditioner to make up 0.0045 percent or less of the weight of the flour used. So far, the FDA has not martialed around the battle against ADA, and has left it up to producers to make a change.
The World Health Organization, or WHO, does not recommend eating food with ADA, as they report its connection to asthma, other respiratory diseases, and skin allergies. WHO states that there is abundant evidence to back up these claims. The chemical is banned in Australia and Europe.
Perhaps Subway is an appropriate business to leave off using ADA, since they make their breads in-house and do not have to worry about transporting the finished loaves.
The consumer concerns were heightened when it was brought out that ADA is used in plastics to make them more buoyant and in flip-flops and yoga mats. The comparison might not have been fair since other safe products used in food manufacturing may have other, more traditionally chemical uses – such as baking soda in fire extinguishers.
As with most controversies, the food producers will have to make a decision to find more healthy ways of improving their prepackaged meals and breads. The cost benefit analysis would include the economic burden of making changes in recipes versus the decrease in sales if nothing is done to remedy consumer worries. In most cases, manufacturers have a balanced concern over the safety of their offered products and the bottom line.
Because Azodicarbonamide is found in yoga mats as well as 500 foods, some consumers have become hesitant to eat foods containing ADA. Wary consumers will speak with their wallet and their requests of grocers and retailers.
By Lisa M Pickering