I can safely say most consumers were shocked when Subway announced in early February that it would no longer use in its bread chemicals found in yoga mats and shoe soles.
Unfortunately, Subway sandwiches are just the tip of the iceberg as the chemical is reportedly put in hundreds of other foods.
Like the staggering 500 listed in a salon.com report as containing azodicarbonamide or ADA, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest has categorized as poorly tested and unsafe.
Other countries also consider ADA unsafe for human consumption as it is banned in Europe. The World Health Organization has also linked this chemical to respiratory illnesses, allergies and asthma in workers handling large amounts.
But despite these warnings, it is USDA- and Food and Drug Administration-approved in this part of North America. In fact, many commercial bakers use it to enhance their dough.
Although Subway has now vowed to stop using azodicarbonamide, companies like Starbucks, Dunkin Doughnuts and fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Arby’s still use it.
The list of 500 foods on grocery shelves nationwide include more than 130 brands of bread, buns, snacks, pastries and pre-made sandwiches from companies like SaraLee, American Choice to Wonder Bread.
A byproduct of azodicarbonamide is urethane, a known carcinogen, and critics believe it is time for the FDA to ban it from all foods.
Critics are also concerned about another byproduct, semicarbazide, which they say is potentially more dangerous and CSPI called the use of ADA in foods, a “negligible risk to humans.”
One legislator who has joined the fight of activist blogger Vani Hari known as Food Babe, who started a petition on Subway, subsequently blowing the whistle on the ADA bonanza in their bread, is Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Schumer said the chemical is banned in most of the developed world and told Newsday that it was time for the FDA to do the same. He said companies like McDonald’s bread are so full of ADA that “billions and billions served could really be billions and billions served toxic chemicals."
However, the FDA continues to stand by its guideline limits of 0.0045 percent by weight of the flour or the equivalent “fewer than 2.05 grams per 100 pounds of flour or 45 parts per million.” A complicated dosage to follow by anyone’s standards, which begs the question: Are manufacturers following it to the letter?
We know from past recalls, food contamination and even deaths, that government agencies charged with the responsibility of protecting consumers, have dropped the ball repeatedly.
Over worked, understaffed, incompetence and corruption may all have contributed to some of the poor oversight of the FDA, the USDA and even the EPA.
Corporations seem to be running these agencies and with their endless supply of lobbying money, they are controlling our legislators in Washington and beyond as well.
Christopher Leonard, author of ”The Meat Racket," accurately linked the systematic poisoning of our foods and environment to the feudal-like control of farmers by corporations in the food industry.
Though his book focused primarily on the meat sector, Leonard pointed out while speaking to the host of HBO'S Real Time with Bill Maher, that the goal of an industrialized food supply is not “necessarily to create high quality products with a lot of variability” but rather to create products “for that low, middle end of the quality spectrum.”
This low quality, mass produced product can then shipped to places like Wal-Mart, where they can sit out on shelves for an indefinite length of time without going “bad.”
So money is at the root of our poisoned, low quality, high quantity, mass produced foods, for as Leonard put it, these foods can be “consistently produced at a low price.” Moreover, the “seriously entrenched, moneyed interests” have invested millions in lobbying to keep the dangerous status quo.
Consumers have to get mad, en masse, in concentrated doses for long periods of time, in order to make a dent in this kind of entrenched, fully funded corruption.
Click here to check out the complete list of foods.