Monday, February 10, 2014

Subway Restaurants removes dough conditioning chemical azodicarbonamide

Subway is removing azodicarbonamide, a dough conditioning chemical, from its bread formulation. This chemical can be found in bread sold by numerous retailers and foodservice establishments, however Subway was targeted because of its good nutrition stance.

FDA does allow this product to be used in bread applications. From the Code of Federal Regulations:
172.806 Azodicarbonamide.
The food additive azodicarbonamide may be safely used in food in accordance with the following prescribed conditions:
(a) It is used or intended for use:
(1) As an aging and bleaching ingredient in cereal flour in an amount not to exceed 2.05 grams per 100 pounds of flour (0.0045 percent; 45 parts per million).
(2) As a dough conditioner in bread baking in a total amount not to exceed 0.0045 percent (45 parts per million) by weight of the flour used, including any quantity of azodicarbonamide added to flour in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
(b) To assure safe use of the additive:
(1) The label and labeling of the additive and any intermediate premix prepared therefrom shall bear, in addition to the other information required by the Act, the following:
(i) The name of the additive.
(ii) A statement of the concentration or the strength of the additive in any intermediate premixes.
(2) The label or labeling of the food additive shall also bear adequate directions for use.
 Much of the hullabaloo made is that for these reasons: 

1) the chemical is also used in non-food applications such as yoga mats……however, you can find that many chemicals used in our foods are also used in non-food applications.

2) a breakdown product of azodicarbonamide is semicarbazide, a potential hazard…… however, that is formed in the formation of plastic bottles and sealants, but any formation in bread is very low risk.

3) The chemical can be hazardous….but only in applications when working with the chemical with the potential of breathing it in in massive doses, not at 45 ppm.

Presented below are two stories, one from CNN and the other from the Huffington Post. Which one provides a more balanced view? Not CNN. As pointed out in the Huffington piece, people will not need to worry. So no need to worry, it is unlikely that Jared will have to worry about his Subway diet.

I guess this is the trend now…to identify any ingredient that has a long, unidentifiable chemical formula name and that is used in some non-food application. How about this one - dihydrogen monoxide is found in a multitude of applications, both food and non-food… including the manufacturer of cleaning compounds. Additionally, it has been involved in deaths, including a woman who died after drinking 6 liters of it in 3 hours. Time for a ban?

It is funny, on one hand, people want more government intervention into making safe food, but on the other hand, they don’t trust what the government, namely FDA and EPA, have done. 

Subway to remove 'dough conditioner' chemical from bread

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
updated 1:23 PM EST, Thu February 6, 2014

(CNN) -- Take a look at ingredients for some varieties of Subway's bread and you'll find a chemical that may seem unfamiliar and hard to pronounce: azodicarbonamide.

To say this word, you would emphasize the syllable "bon" -- but the attention the chemical has been getting has not been good. Besides bread, the chemical is also found in yoga mats and shoe soles to add elasticity.

But it's not long for bread at Subway: The company says it's coming out.

"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 said in a statement. "The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon."

The controversial chemical has been used by commercial bakers for the purpose of strengthening dough but has been poorly tested, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

One of the breakdown products, derived from the original substance, is called urethane, a recognized carcinogen, the organization says. Using azodicarbonamide at maximum allowable levels results in higher levels of urethane in bread "that pose a small risk to humans," CSPI said.

Another breakdown product is semicarbazide, which poses "a negligible risk to humans" but was found to cause cancers of the lung and blood vessels in mice, CSPI said.

CSPI advocates for reducing the amount of the chemical that is allowed to be used.

"We urge the Food and Drug Administration to consider whether the Delaney amendment, which bars the use of food additives that cause cancer in humans or animals, requires the agency to bar its use," CSPI said.

The FDA has said that the additive cannot exceed 0.0045% by weight of the flour when used in as a "dough conditioner."

The American Bakers Association told CNN: "Past FDA sampling results have indicated appropriate low level use in products. As a dough conditioner it has a volume/texture effect on the finished loaf. It is a functional ingredient that improves the quality of bread and any substitutes are likely not to work as well as ADA (azodicarbonamide)."

Food blogger Vani Hari, of the popular food blog Food Babe, originally drew public attention to this issue, CSPI said. She has written about Subway ingredients several times since 2012, this week she launched a petition urging Subway to stop using azodicarbonamide. More than 67,000 people signed.

Grocery store breads and restaurant breads also contain this chemical. Other major fast food chains have products with the ingredient too, including McDonald's, Starbucks and Arby's.

McDonald's has also responded to concerns about the chemical with regard to its McRib sandwich buns, but continues to use the chemical in that product.

McDonald's notes on its website that a "variation of Azodicarbonamide has commercial uses and is used in the production of some foamed plastics, like exercise mats. But this shouldn't be confused with the food-grade variation of this ingredient."

Azodicarbonamide is not legally allowed to be used as a dough improver in the European Union, according to the European Food Safety Authority. It is also banned in Australia.

A 1999 report from an international group of health experts, published by the World Health Organization, says some studies suggest that the chemical can induce asthma, based on evidence from people with symptoms and employees of facilities where the chemical is manufactured or used.

But use of the chemical in the workplace is very different, and carries much greater exposure than eating a tiny amount in bread.

The report notes that the concentration required to produce asthmatic reactions is unknown.

 "The level of risk is uncertain; hence, exposure levels should be reduced as much as possible," WHO said.

How Dangerous Is That Sketchy Subway Bread Chemical, And Who Else Uses It?
Posted: 02/07/2014 2:15 pm EST Updated: 02/10/2014 10:59 am EST
Huffington Post

Subway announced Wednesday it will remove from its bread recipe a chemical that is also found in yoga mats and rubber-soled shoes. The change followed a petition by food blogger Vani Hari, who asked Subway to stop using azodicarbonamide and argued that the chemical poses a direct health risk. But how dangerous is this stuff really? And who else is using it?

Subway was specifically targeted due to its “healthy” image, but it is by no means the only restaurant to use the chemical. Multiple sources have pointed out that popular chain restaurants -- McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Arby’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, to name a few -- also use the substance as an ingredient. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration's guidelines on food and health safety for corporations permit the use of azodicarbonamide.

Hari's petition mentions that exposure to it could be linked to asthma, respiratory problems, cancer and skin irritation. But those of you who bought a $5 footlong Subway sandwich for lunch probably don’t need to worry.

According to a 1999 World Health Organization evaluation of studies on the effects of azodicarbonamide, there was a negligible impact from the chemical in animal test subjects, except in massive doses. All information regarding human testing was inconclusive. (Hari also cited this WHO report in her Subway petition.)

Azodicarbonomide was administered in controlled doses by “inhalation and oral routes” in rats that were tested in one of the studies examined by the WHO. However, the substance remained “unabsorbed from the gastrointestinal tract” and passed through the rodents with no noticeable effect. Elimination of the azodicarbonamide was found to be rapid (predominantly through the evacuation of urine), and the study authors concluded that the chemical has little systemic retention.

Perhaps some of the most damning evidence of the chemical's side effects have to do with stories of dogs that met their end in lab experiments with the chemical. This information comes from a one-year study the WHO found in which rats and dogs were exposed to diets containing various levels of biurea, a chemical created from azodicarbonaminde. One rat in the high-exposure group died, and most of the dogs in both groups died.

The WHO report also cites studies that examined bread baked with azodicarbonamide. Subject animals died but were of varying backgrounds, so no useful statistics could be gleaned. As a result, the link between the chemical and these deaths is circumstantial.

At the end of the day, it's not advisable to scent one's room with an azodicarbonamide air freshener (were one to exist), but it doesn't seem likely that Subway has been poisoning customers all these years, so rest easy.

1 comment:

  1. It's nice that Subway removes dough chemical from its bread formulation. In Europe there is legislation imposed on chemicals named REACH. We are a REACH consultancy company and helps chemical manufacturer companies to get registered against REACH.