Subway is the latest large company to announce its plans to remove a questionable chemical from its food ingredients. One of the world’s largest fast-food chains, the firm announced it will eliminate the chemical known as Azodiacarbonamide from its sandwich bread ingredients.
A plastic-based additive, Azodiacarbonamide is used as a dough conditioner. It is also used to increase elasticity in yoga mats, rubber soles and synthetic leather, according to Vani Hari, a food activist who recently gathered over 57,000 signatures on petitions asking Subway to make the change. Van Hari runs a site called FoodBabe, that posts information about food ingredients, healthy recipes and more.
Subway claims it was already in the process of removing Azodiacarbonamide from its bread products in the U.S. before it received the petitions. The company pointed out Azodiacarbonamide is an ingredient approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in their statement. The FDA considers Azodiacarbonamide safe for use as “dough conditioner” if it does not exceed 45 parts per million. However, the World Health Organization has linked the chemical to respiratory issues, such as asthma. While its use is allowed in the U.S. and Canada, Azodiacarbonamide has been banned in Europe and Australia; it is not used in Subway breads in those areas.
Health concerns about additives, including sugar, have become more of a priority for American consumers. Subway is proud of its reputation for healthier fast-food options and uses the tag line Eat Fresh. First Lady Michelle Obama recently endorsed Subway’s children’s menu as a healthier option for parents to choose.
Subway is just the latest company to announce plans to remove chemicals from its food. At the start of the year, General Mills bowed to consumer pressure and indicated plans to remove genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs, from Cheerios. General Mills was using genetically engineered cornstarch and sugar cane for some Cheerios brands,
Hari along with another woman, Lisa Leake, take credit for getting Kraft Food Group Inc., to stop using artificial yellow dye in some of its Kraft’s Mac and Cheese products. Hari found that Kraft’s Mac and Cheese products in United Kingdom are dye free because of stricter rules regarding additives. Kraft now plans to use the natural colors from spices, such as paprika, in use in the U.K. here. Kraft also indicated they are retooling the recipe to contain more grains as well as reduced levels of sodium and saturated fat.
Three other companies who have been pressured to remove chemicals are Mars, Chik-Fil-A and PepsiCo. Mars, the maker of M&M’s has been targeted by petitions asking them to stop using artificial dyes that have been linked to behavior problems in children. The dyes in question are not used in Europe, where M&M’s contain mostly natural dyes. PepsiCo. announced last year that it would remove an ingredient from Gatorade that has been linked to a flame retardant. Chik-Fil-A is testing alternatives oils, after word got out that heir peanut oil contained a chemical made from butane, and plans on removing high-fructose corn syrup and artificial dyes from menu items. Subway may be the latest company to announce that it will remove a chemical from its food items, but as the public becomes more concerned about additives it will not be the last.
By Dyanne Weiss