In an effort to improve their recipes, Subway, the privately held restaurant chain based in Milford, Conn., is ditching “azodicarbonamide,” a dough conditioner that doubles as a yoga mat ingredient. “Even though this ingredient is safe, we are removing it from (our) bread,” Subway announced in a statement.
“This process began last year and is nearly completed — we have already developed an improved bread formula, conducted extensive performance and consumer testing on it, and pending final government approvals, we should complete the entire conversion process within the coming weeks.”
Food blogger Vani Hari, better known as Food Babe, triggered a viral wildfire when she launched a petition about a week ago, urging Subway to stop using azodicarbonamide. More than 67,000 people signed it. Subway’s Facebook page was filled with comments.
Although Subway doesn’t use the ingredient in its breads in Europe, Australia or other parts of the world, it uses it the United States, where the Food and Drug Administration fully approves of azodicarbonamide for the purpose of strengthening dough.
If you eat wheat and gluten, azodicarbonamide can be found in grocery-store breads and those served by major fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Arby’s.
Want to learn more? Read A Scary Look Inside The McRib.
Azodicarbonamide is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which classifies it as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) when used to ‘condition’ or bleach dough. I don’t know about you, but if I did eat bread, I’d totally go for the synthetically whipped and bleached version.
The GRAS designation is very common and applies to most foods we eat. “Why did Food Babe target Subway,” you might wonder? It’s because the company really tries to project an image of fast-food nutritional superiority. Even Olympic gymnasts eat Subway meals. And remember that dude who could fit into one pant leg after going on a Subway diet?
But, if you look at the ingredients it uses, azodicarbonamide is just one of our concerns with Subway. What about enriched wheat flour from a most-likely hybridized strain of wheat, yellow corn (which is most-likely genetically modified), a crap load of preservatives like potassium lactate (a flavor agent, taste enhancer and humectant) and a chemical preservative called sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) that makes seafood appear firmer, smoother and glossier?
In large quantities, STPP is a suspected neurotoxin, as well as a registered pesticide and, in California, classified as an air contaminant. And, meanwhile, are Subway’s veggies ‘conventional’ (i.e., doused in chemicals)? They fling around the word ‘fresh’ with aplomb but don’t fool yourself. You want to lose weight? Ditch wheat, eat organic, whole foods, and add superfoods or a smoothie to your day.
The food movement is not going anywhere. Americans are beginning to scrutinize their food, and social media is urging companies to take responsibility for their ingredients.
Maryam Henein is an investigative journalist, professional researcher, and producer of the award-winning documentary Vanishing of the Bees.
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