If you had trouble pronouncing the last word in the title of this article, you are not alone. It’s quite the tongue twister. In fact, it sounds like the name of an industrial chemical used in the plastics and rubber industry. Oh wait, it is. So why do I care about it? Because the same chemical is also used in the baking industry for things like hamburger buns and bread.
Commercial bakeries use azodicarbonamide to bleach the flour, making it whiter. In addition, this additive changes the structure of the dough, strengthening it and adding elasticity. Apparently, these are desired traits for Big Food companies like Subway, Sara Lee, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Starbucks. This issue with this chemical is whether or not it’s actually safe to consume. The US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) classifies this additive as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and allows it in baked goods and flour up to the limit of 45 part per million. Sounds like a miniscule amount; but then again, if this additive might cause respiratory issues and possibly even be a carcinogen, should there really be ANY of it in my food? The European Union, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand all think this food additive is not worth the risk and have banned it’s use as a bleaching agent.
Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe, did a little investigation and found that Subway uses the additive in at least eight of their popular sandwich breads including: 9-Grain Wheat, 9-Grain Honey Oat, Italian White, Italian Herbs & Cheese, Parmesan/Oregano, Roasted Garlic, Sourdough, and Monterrey Cheddar. It is interesting to note that Subway does NOT use this additive in their restaurants overseas because they can’t (because they’re banned!). This really got under the Food Babe’s skin, but what really pushed her over the edge was when the First Lady, the American Heart Association and several Olympic athletes began touting Subway as “fresh” and “nutritious” meals. After repeated requests for a response, she decided to launch a full-scale petition to get Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
We give kudos to the Food Babe for launching this campaign and for pointing out the hypocrisy of Subway having two versions of the same breads (the crappy one from all us Americans and the “clean” version for those abroad). Click here to sign the petition and ask Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
If you skipped the TV show, Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution this past spring, you missed out. The “Naked Chef” (as he was known on his former cooking show) had a mission to change the way the people eat. Between 2005 and 2008, this British chef began a campaign to ensure UK children were fed healthy and nutritious food in school. The campaign brought public awareness to the issue and prompted the UK government to pledge millions to change school lunch programs.
In December, Jamie was announced as the 2010 TED Prize Winner.
“I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.” – Jaime Oliver
After his success in the UK, he brought his message to the US with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show on ABC. Through six, 60-minute episodes, he helped open America’s eyes to the world of public school lunch programs, flavored milk, junk food, and the expanding waist bands of millions of American families. I watched every episode in awe that I was actually hearing such an amazing message on prime-time television. Not only did Jamie do a terrific job of pointing out what’s wrong with food these days, but he also offers solutions. If he can change the mind of stubborn school cafeteria workers, grumpy radio hosts, parents, and politicians in West Virginia, he may actually be able to elicit change across our nation. Check out this short clip above which explains his mission.
The show won an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Series and based on recent news reports, has been renewed by ABC for a second season. It is scheduled to air in Summer or Fall 2011. Join Jamie’s campaign by clicking on the “Sign the Petition” logo at left.