WASHINGTON, February 6, 2014 — Subway sandwich shops have agreed to remove a chemical from its bread which is allegedly also used in the making of yoga mats and shoe rubber.
The issue came to light when a food blogger launched an online petition asking the restaurant to stop using azodicarbonamide.
Azodicarbonamide is most often used as a blowing agent by rubber and plastic industries. Its use in food products is banned in the United Kingdom and Europe but not in the United States.
The World Health Organization defines azodicarbonamide as a food additive to “bleach and improve” flour in some bread.
WHO’s report continues to say “Case reports and epidemiological studies in humans have produced abundant evidence that azodicarbonamide can induce asthma, other respiratory symptoms, and skin sensitization in exposed workers.”
Vani Hari, creator of the food blogsite Foodbabe.com, launched an online petition after discovering the chemical was being added to Subway breads in order to produce bread faster and cheaper.
Hari claims 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.
According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, when azodicarbonamide is heated, studies show it is linked to tumor development and cancer.
To date 65,087 supporters have signed the petition.
NBC Connecticut contacted Subway on this issue. The sandwich restaurant released a statement through a public relations firm Wednesday afternoon.
“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. The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon,” the statement read.
“I commend Subway for finally responding to me and now over 58,000 concerned citizens. Their swift action is a testament to what power petitions and individuals can have,” says Hari, in an email to USA Today. “I’d like to note that current Subway sandwiches still have this ingredient, and I urge everyone not to eat their sandwich bread until they have finally removed the chemical.”
Foodbabe.com has also set up petitions focusing on other food companies including Kraft and Chick-fil-A for the chemicals in their products.