Food chain giant Subway recently announced that it is discontinuing the use of the chemical azodicarbonamide on their bread.
The chemical azodicarbonamide is powdered food additive used as in flour. It is banned in Australia, Europe and other countries but not in the U.S which allow its use on food with a limit of up to 445 ppm. The same chemical is also used in plastics and synthetic leather.
The chemical attracted attention when food blogger Vani Hari wrote a petition on her blog Food Babe calling for Subway to stop using it as an ingredient for its bread. She mentioned how the chemical is being used to manufacture shoe rubber and yoga mats. Subway is using the chemical "as a bleaching agent".
According to the Washington Post, Hari targeted Subway among other food chains because it claims that their food choices are healthy. She also called the attention of other food companies such as Chick-fil-A and Kraft. Days after publishing his online petition, the Facebook page for Subway was flooded with comments and questions about azodicarbonamide.
However, according to Subway, the alterations for their recipes were underway even before the petition was publicized. Subway, said in a statement, "The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon".
The modifications in the recipe and food products of food companies are a result of an increased awareness of Americans regarding the food that they eat. Food companies are under pressure to make healthier food products and to find alternatives for chemicals which may not be fit for human consumption. Online platforms have become vital platforms in which consumers can voice out their concerns, just what Hari did.
A similar situation happened last year when PepsiCo discontinued an ingredient which is needed in the manufacture of the energy drink, Gatorade. The ingredient in question was found out to be also used in creating flame retardants. However, just like Subway, PepsiCo said that their decision to remove the ingredient in the formulation of the drink was not due to the online petition that was filed to ask the company to stop using the ingredient.