Last week Subway announced that it would stop using azodicarbonamide, an ingredient known as a dough conditioner that’s also a chemical found in yoga mats, shoe rubber and other synthetic leather. It’s recognized as a safe ingredient in the U.S., but is banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive. But of course, Subway isn’t the only fast food restaurant to use it. So where else can you find azodicarbonamide?
Pretty much everywhere, notes CNBC:
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
While Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Jack in the Box didn’t give CNBC a comment, a few companies did pipe in about using azodicarbonamide, which again, is totally legal in the U.S.
“Azodicarbonamide is commonly used throughout the baked goods industry, and this includes some of the bread goods on our menu,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman said, pointing out that it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
It sounds like azodicarbonamide will remain on the menu, as Mickey D’s will keep serving “the great tasting, quality food they expect from McDonald’s. This ingredient, like all the ingredients we use, is available to consumers on our website.”
Dunkin’ Donuts also had an answer, writing that “There are trace amounts of azodicarbonamide, a common ingredient approved as safe by the Food and Drug Administration, in three Dunkin’ Donuts bakery items, including the Danish, Croissant and Texas Toast. All of our products comply with federal, state and local food safety standards and regulations. We are evaluating the use of the ingredient as a dough conditioner in our products and currently discussing the matter with our suppliers.”
So it sounds like the chemical is here to stay at DD as well.
Over at Starbucks, there’s a change coming as the chain is transitioning the chemical out of its foods like the butter croissants and chocolate croissants.
“Our new La Boulange Bakery goods do not contain the ingredients. Our goal is to transition all the stores to La Boulange. We’re about halfway through that transition,” a Starbucks spokeswoman told CNBC.
What’s the big deal, anyway, if it’s legal for use in food? The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest is lobbying the United States Department of Agriculture to consider putting the kibosh in it, saying that when the chemical is baked in bread it produces the carcinogen urethane and “leads to slightly increased levels of urethane in bread that pose a small risk to humans” when azodicarbonamide is used at its maximum limit.
A World Health Organization report states: “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. Adverse effects on other systems have not been studied.”
Whether you care about it or not, it’s always better to know what’s in your food and then make a decision whether or not to eat it. The more you knoooooow [cue shooting star, rainbow].