If you had no idea that there is yoga mat material in your hamburger bun, you’re not alone.
We sure didn’t. Every time we drive past a Subway, one of the kids will bring it up.
Azodicarbonamide is a chemical used “in the production of foamed plastics.” It’s used to make sneaker soles and gym mats.
In the United States, it is also used in our food, as a food additive and flour bleaching agent.
This “ingredient” is most often found in breads, boxed noodle mixes, and packaged baked goods.
So why in the world are we using it in our food?
Back in our grandmothers’ days, bread would go stale within a day or two and grow mold by the end of the week. Not fun but natural. In order to address this concern for food retailers, the industry began adding this foaming agent in order to extend the shelf life of bread and preserve it—to pump it up and plump it up in order to keep it fresh and enhance profitability.
Around the world, most countries wait about a week for flour to whiten on its own, but the American food processors prefer to use this chemical to bleach the flour here because time is money.
The United States is one of the only developed countries in the world that allows something used in shoes and gym mats to also be used in sandwiches. You can get up to 15 years in prison and be fined nearly half a million dollars for using this chemical in Singapore. It is banned as a food additive and in food packaging in the United Kingdom whose “Health and Safety Executive” considers it a “respiratory sensitizer.” Europe and Australia ban the use of this chemical, azodicarbonamide, too, because it has been linked to asthma and other allergic reactions, as cited by the World Health Organization.
But not here. So are we allergic to wheat or what is being done to it?
In the last twenty years, we have seen an epidemic increase in allergies, asthma, ADHD and autism, including a:
- 400% increase in food allergies
- 300% increase in asthma, with a 56% increase in asthma deaths
It’s time to rethink food, rethink the role of the FDA in light of its shrinking budget and capacity to regulate our food system, and to require that independent scientific studies be conducted, not only for the health of our children, but also for the sake of our increasingly burdened health care system and the toll that the chronic rates of diseases and their escalating costs are having on the health of our economy.
Additional information is available from the World Health Organization as well as azodicarbonamide’s classification as an “asthmagen” by the Health and Safety Executive’s office.