The Subway sandwich chain is changing the recipe for its sandwich bread, to eliminate a chemical additive called azodicarbonamide, a bleaching agent that can make flour appear whiter. It also gives bread additional elasticity, and works as a preservative to let fresh bread last considerably longer before going stale.
So why not bake bread with this miracle chemical?
Well, according to various governments in Europe and Australia, azodicarbonamide is a “respiratory sensitizer” that can trigger asthmatic reactions. In Singapore, using azodicarbonamide in food warrants high fines and lengthy prison sentences.
In most of the world, azodicarbonamide is primarily used in the manufacture of rubber and plastics.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration takes a slightly different view: azodicarbonamide is “Generally Recognized As Safe” in food — but may only be present in densities no greater than 45 parts per million.
Pressure from the Blogosphere
Just why Subway made its decision is open to discussion. It may have been in response to a petition started by Vani Hari, the blogger behind FoodBabe.com.
Last September, FoodBabe warned her readers about azodicarbonamide in a post that asked, “Are you eating this ingredient banned all over the world?”
This week, on Feb. 4, she urged her readers to sign a petition asking Subway to remove the chemical from its breads.
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Today, the Associated Press reported that Subway is in the process of removing the chemical from its recipes, quoting an unnamed Subway representative who said the change was underway before FoodBabe's petition came to their attention.