Companies that portray a healthy image, like Subway, must be held accountable to their “eat fresh” claims.
When a company like Subway cooks a carcinogenic chemical directly into their bread for many years, they really aren’t being honest about their healthy image and mission.
For over a year and a half, FoodBabe.com founder Vani Hari has tried to bring this issue to light, contacting Subway in hopes that they would remove the chemical azodicarbonamide from their bread.
Vani says that the chemical lurks in their 9-grain wheat, Italian white, honey oat, Italian herbs and cheese, parmesan/oregano, roasted garlic, sourdough and Monterrey cheddar breads.
As the issue goes public, Subway has finally responded.
Yoga mat chemical being removed from Subway’s bread
Banned in Australia and Europe, this “bread conditioning” azodicarbonamide additive is also found in yoga mats and the rubber soles of shoes. The chemical effectively breaks down in the baking process to form semicarbazide and urethane. Byproducts like semicarbazide, which have been floating around in Subway’s bread for years, have been linked to lung and blood cancers in mice. Urethane, which has been known to cause cancer in rodents as well, has also been hiding behind Subway’s “eat fresh” campaign.
Tremendous amounts of these carcinogenic chemicals have been consumed for many years, but this dangerous bread-making industry shortcut is now being brought to light.
Subway finally responds after a year and a half of activist persistence
In a recent interview with CBS News, Vani stated, “I reached out to Subway over the last year and a half and they’ve never once told me they’re taking out this chemical.”
Then, in 2014, the Food Babe decided to launch a petition on her site asking Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their menu items. She additionally pointed out that Subway already doesn’t use the chemical additive in Australian and European restaurants. When the Subway headquarters finally responded, Vani and the Food Babe army were delighted about the progress being made for the health of millions in the US. “This is an obvious response to the power of the Food Babe army,” Vani told CBS News. Persistent unity made all the difference.
Subway wrote to CBS News on February 7, 2014, that they would commit to removing the chemical from their bread in the US.
“We are already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is a USDA and FDA approved ingredient,” Subway told CBS News via e-mail. “The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon.”
Azodicarbonamide exposes people to known carcinogen, found in other US food products
The Center for Science in the Public Interest points out that this bread-strengthening agent is not safe at all, highlighting its carcinogenic breakdown components, semicarbazide and urethane. “Considering that many breads don’t contain azodicarbonamide and that its use slightly increases exposure to a carcinogen, this is hardly a chemical that we need in our food supply,” the center said in a statement.
But the chemical remains as an additive in other commercial breads, like Arby’s sesame seed bun, Starbucks butter croissant, McDonalds English muffin, Wendy’s Mornin’ Melt Panini bread and even Sara Lee’s 100 percent whole wheat bread.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization cites case reports of humans which show how azodicarbonamide causes asthma, respiratory symptoms and skin problems in workers exposed to the chemical.
“There’s a risk assessment issue here – why are they putting it in?” says toxicology professor Dr. Barry Blakely. “Is there a real benefit other than color or keeping the food soft? And is that a legitimate reason to add risk to the equation?” He, among many others, advises that more research needs to be conducted on the potential dangers of factory chemicals that are added en masse to the food supply.