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I just read an article entitled “Are You Eating Yoga Mat in Your Sandwich?” by food activist Vani Hari.  Vani started to spread information about what is really in the American food supply and tries to educate the American public on how to make healthier purchasing decisions.

I had read before about many toxic chemicals that are allowed in the U.S. food supply but actually banned elsewhere throughout the world (post on that to come), but in this article Vani focuses on one of them – Azodicarbonamide.  Azodicarbonamide is the same type of chemical used to make yoga mats, shoe soles, and other rubber objects, and, according to Vani, is also in the bread of your Subway sandwich!

Vani discovered that the well-known sandwich super-chain Subway makes almost all the breads at their restaurants in North America with azodicarbonamide but not in Europe, Australia or other parts of the world. 

According to Vani:

Subway is using this ingredient as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner which allows them to produce bread faster and cheaper without regard to the following health consequences and alarming facts:

  • The World Health Organization has linked it to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma.
  • When a truck carrying azodicarbonamide overturned on a Chicago highway in 2001, it prompted city officials to issue the highest hazardous materials alert and evacuate people within a half mile radius! Many of the people on the scene complained of burning eyes and skin irritation as a result. 
  • The U.K. Health And Safety Executive has recognized azodicarbonamide as a potential cause of asthma. 
  • When azodicarbonamide is heated, there are studies that show it is linked to tumor development and cancer.
  • Not only is this ingredient banned in Europe and Australia, but you also get fined 450,000 dollars if you get caught using it in Singapore and can serve 15 years in prison. 

Vani urged readers to join her in petitioning Subway to remove the chemical from their products – as they already do in other countries.   As she put it:

Subway is the largest fast food company headquartered in the United States. If Subway changes their Bread, we know this could inspire other food companies across the US to finally eliminate this dangerous chemical once and for all.

North Americans deserve to truly eat fresh – not yoga mats.

AND, when I googled azodicarbonamide after reading the article, guess what I found…. an article entitled “That Chemical Subway Ditched? McDonald’s, Wendy’s Use It Toothat reported that Vani’s petition generated such widespread uproar that Subway announced plans  to remove the ingredient from its bread (although Subway didn’t way when…  So if you’re planning on going anytime soon, just know that currently, the 9-grain wheat, Italian white and sourdough breads contain it.)

The article reported that Vani’s petition had 75,000 signatures as of last Friday February 7th!


This certainly shows the power of consumers to spark change in the food supply for the better!  So, now that Subway is changing, what about the other big chains??

According to restaurant websites (they have to disclose these chemical ingredients), here is a list of some products that contain azodicarbonamide as an ingredient:

  • McDonald’s: regular bun, bakery style bun, bagel and English muffin, Big Mac bun and sesame seed bun.
  • Burger King: specialty buns, artisan-style bun, sesame seed bun, croissant, English muffin, home-style Caesar croutons and French toast sticks.
  • Wendy’s: bagel, premium toasted bun, sandwich bun and panini bread
  • Arby’s: croissant, French toast sticks, harvest wheat bun, honey wheat bread, marble rye bread, mini bun, onion bread and sesame seed bun
  • Jack in the Box: bakery style bun, jumbo bun, croissant, grilled sourdough bread and regular bun
  • Chick-fil-A: chargrilled chicken sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, and chargrilled chicken club sandwich
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: Danish, Croissant and Texas Toast
  • Starbucks: butter croissants and chocolate croissants

While azodicarbonamide is approved for use in food products by the FDA and USDA, the FDA has said that the additive cannot exceed 0.0045% by weight of the flour when used in as a “dough conditioner.”  According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI),  azodicarbonamide has not been well tested and one of the breakdown products of the chemical is called urethane, a recognized carcinogen.  Also according to CSPI, using azodicarbonamide at maximum allowable levels results in higher levels of urethane in bread “that pose a small risk to humans”.  And the organization found that another breakdown product, semicarbazide, poses “a negligible risk to humans” but was found to cause cancers of the lung and blood vessels in mice. 

I think the World Health Organization states it perfectly: “The level of risk is uncertain; hence, exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible.”  If azodicarbonamide is not legally allowed to be used as a dough improver in the European Union or Australia, why should we take the risk here?  

Please share this to spread the message of toxin-free health:

One Response to Are you eating rubbery materials in your sandwich?

  1. […] to the previous post on the chemical azodicarbonamide (commonly found in yoga mats, flip-flops, insulation and more) […]

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