Did you ever ask yourself, “What is azodicarbonamide and why do I eat it?”
I asked that of myself the other day after downing a mini bagel and then reading the ingredients on the package. I had consumed azodicarbonamide and had not even realized it until after the stuff was in my gut.
I read prepared food ingredients quite often, especially on bread packages. I usually key on stuff like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other stuff I prefer to limit in my diet. When it comes to chemicals, I sometimes check on stuff I’m not familiar with. Azodicarbonamide is one chemical I don’t remember ever having noticed before. Having noticed it listed on the bag of bagels, I checked other breads we have in the house. Unfortunately, it’s also listed on my current favorite bread – Archer Farms Simply Balanced 100% Whole Wheat. What’s going on here?
I did some checking and discovered that azodicarbonamide, or ADA, is reportedly in wide use in bread at some fast food restaurants. According to an article in Wikipedia, “Azodicarbonamide, or azobisformamide, is a synthetic chemical, C2H4O2N4. It is a yellow to orange red, odorless, crystalline powder. It is known as E Number E927.”
Why is this stuff used in food? According to Wikipedia, “Azodicarbonamide is used in food industry as a food additive, a flour bleaching agent and improving agent.” Apparently it has some property or properties that do something to make bread better. How better, I can’t say for sure. Would I notice its absence if it were not in my favorite bread? I wish I knew!
I checked ingredients of products at the Subway web site and found that azodicarbonamide is used in some but not all of their breads. Even though Wikipedia mentions Panera Breads as a user of azodicarbonamide, that apparently is incorrect. I checked Panera’s web site for ingredients and could not find it listed in any of the breads I checked. That’s good, because I frequent Panera quite often and intend to continue doing so.
Azodicarbonamide is used in the manufacture of foam plastics. Should this be of concern to us? I don’t know for sure, but the fact certainly doesn’t whet my appetite for bread that contains the stuff.
Azodicarbonamide is banned in the UK. Its use in Singapore can get you 15 years in prison. A comprehensive scientific report concludes that
. . . the key toxic effect of azodicarbonamide in humans is asthmagenicity. Evidence of this effect has been found from bronchial challenge studies and workplace health evaluations. From the information available, azodicarbonamide is considered to have a low potential for irritancy; thus, it is considered that the respiratory symptoms observed in these studies are most likely due to an asthmatic-type response rather than respiratory tract irritancy. There is no clear information on the levels that may have induced or provoked the state of asthma.
There is also information to indicate that azodicarbonamide can cause skin sensitization in humans.
Based on this information, I will no longer knowingly purchase food containing the chemical. With the reported increase in cases of asthma, especially among children, it seems odd that a substance that has been linked to asthma is still being put in food. I wonder how many families with children know about azodicarbonamide. I wonder why the Food and Drug Administration allows it to be put in food. The FDA keeps track of Everything Added to Food in the United States. Click on the link and you can find the list. Pretty scary.
You can’t depend on others to watch out for your well being, so you’d better do it yourself.