Close to 500 different foods found on the shelves of American grocery stores, several of which are in addition labeled as “healthy,” contain an industrial plastics chemical also found in shoes, yoga mats and several other things most people would probably avoid eating in their everyday lives. A health research and advocacy group issued a report about the potentially hazardous chemical on Thursday.
Azodicarbonamide, also referred to as ADA, was found as an ingredient in Bagels, tortillas, breads, pastries, pizza, hot dog and hamburger buns, and other food products, according to the Washington-based group’s report.
A request has been issued by a number of consumer groups, for the removal of the chemical from use in foods. Subway announced, earlier this month, that it was proceeding to remove ADA from its products, but stated further that the chemical is safe and widely used as an ingredient for several food products.
ADA is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food, and further it is also approved as such by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. However, the chemical remains prohibited as an additive in some European countries as well as Australia.
Azodicarbonamide can be used safely, according to the FDA, if the amount in flour, where it is perhaps the most common, does not exceed 2.05 grams per 100 pounds of flour, or in other words, 45 parts per million.
ADA, as a food additive, is commonly used as a bleaching agent, in addition to which, it is used as an oxidizing agent in dough, where it is said to improve the dough’s performance for bakers. Further purposes for its use, include plastics, where it reportedly improves elasticity and can be found, among other things, in shoes, yoga mats and other non-food items. Some might suggest a redefinition of the term “eat my shoe,” while others might ask themselves what the potential danger might be.
Epidemiological studies in people along with other reports have provided significant evidence that azodicarbonamide can potentially induce skin sensitization, asthma and other respiratory symptoms to those working with it, according to a statement from the World Health Organization.
Earlier this month US Senator Charles Schumer, a democratic representative from New York, asked the FDA to reconsider its stance and ban the chemical altogether, and following the success of the Subway petition signed by over 67,000 people, other fast-food chains are being pushed to respond accordingly.
With regards to food products meant for human consumption, the FDA reportedly approved the chemical compound azodicarbonamide as being safe-in-moderation. However, following the ban of potassium bromate, another common dough conditioner, a ban they issued some 25 years after the approval of ADA, the reliance on the chemical has gradually increased till today.
Reportedly, the statement from the World Health Organization suggesting the significant evidence for the potential harm that the chemical can cause along with the increasing voices of demand from various groups, organizations and individuals, there seems to be an increasing pressure on food manufacturers as well as the FDA to reevaluate and redefine their position, as the chemical found, amongst other things, in shoes, yoga mats and various plastics, is suggested to not be eaten by humans.
By Halldor Fannar Sigurgeirsson