Subway is known for that distinct smell of fresh baked bread. But the sandwich chain is making a big change to its signature bread recipe. Subway announced Wednesday it will stop using a chemical commonly found in shoe rubber and yoga mats in its bread.
The chemical, called azodicarbonamide, is a plastic-based additive used as a bleaching agent in the bread at Subway, the buns at McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food restaurants.
Blogger Vani Hari put a spotlight on Subway’s use of the ingredient when she started a petition on her blog, Foodbabe.com, to have them remove it. Her petition received more than 50,000 signatures and Hari is taking credit for the ingredient’s removal.
“North Americans deserve to truly eat fresh – not yoga mats.,” Hari wrote on her blog.
But Subway claims it was already looking into eliminating the use of azodicarbonamide.
“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,” said Subway in a statement to The Times. "The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon.”
The FDA lists azodicarbonamide as a food additive that “may be safely used in food” as long as its intended use is for aging and bleaching an ingredient or as a dough conditioner.
In a 1999 report on azodicarbonamide by The World Health Organization states “the effects of exposure to azodicarbonamide in humans have not been fully evaluated,” but that it was linked to respiratory symptoms in some cases.
The ingredient removal comes just weeks after First Lady Michelle Obama praised Subway’s new $41-million Partnership for a Healthier America campaign that focuses on healthy eating for kids.
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