A few years ago clean food advocate Vani Hari, otherwise known as the “Food Babe,” managed to win a victory in her never-ending fight to ensure Americans have the cleanest, most nutritious food they can find and if not, at least know what’s in the foods they’re eating.
She announced on her website that she was successful in convincing the Subway restaurant chain to adopt a practice in the U.S. that the company had already implemented overseas – end the use of all breads that contained a chemical that is used in the making of yoga mats and the soles of shoes (catch a glimpse of her campaign here).
The chemical, azodicarbonamide, was approved for use by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, even though it has been linked to cancer. At the time the chemical was an ingredient in all of Subway’s most popular breads served in the U.S., including its 9-grain wheat and honey oat, Italian herbs and cheese, Italian white and others. Hari was quick to note that Subway did not serve breads containing azodicarbonamide in the UK, throughout the EU and in Australia, as well as other countries.
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A great victory, right? It sure was – but it was only one step in a long journey that is still being waged. You see, Subway was far from the only fast-food restaurant that included azodicarbonamide in its breads and other foods. Indeed, you’ll be surprised to find out just how pervasive the use of the chemical is, as first reported by Buzzfeed:
- McDonald’s puts the chemical in its bakery-style buns, Big Mac bun, English muffins and also in its sesame seed buns.
- Chick-fil-A also uses the chemical, putting azodicarbonamide in its chargrilled chicken sandwich, chargrilled chicken club sandwich and its chicken salad sandwich. (Just so you know, the Food Babe also played a role in convincing Chick-fil-A to move away from using meat with antibiotics within five years.)
- Not to be outdone, Burger King includes the chemical in many, many of its foods: the artisan-style bun, English muffins, croissants, French toast sticks, sesame seed buns and home-style Caesar croutons.
- Dunkin’ Donuts puts the chemical in its croissants, Texas toast and Danishes. However, there may have been a change of heart at the company, with one official telling CNBC, “We are evaluating the use of the ingredient as a dough conditioner in our products and currently discussing the matter with our suppliers.”
- The little red-haired Wendy’s girl may be cute, but the company nonetheless uses the ugly chemical in their premium toasted buns, bagels, Panini bread and sandwich buns.
- Roast beef chain Arby’s is guilty as well, including azodicarbonamide in its sesame seed buns, onion bread, harvest wheat and honey wheat breads, French toast sticks and croissants.
- More leaps out at you at Jack in the Box than an odd-looking clown character. This chain uses the chemical in its regular buns, jumbo buns, bakery-style buns and grilled sourdough bread.
- Carl’s Jr. includes the chemical in its French Toast Dips, honey wheat bread, sourdough bread and its plain and sesame seed buns.
- Following in the footsteps of the other restaurant chains, Hardee’s buns also include the chemical. Specifically, it is an ingredient in the chain’s sourdough bread, hot dog buns, wheat buns, croissants and seeded buns.
- Last but not least, if Harold and Kumar had only known that White Castle buns — along with the chain’s French Toast Sticks, Cloverhill Cheese Danish, Cloverhill Big Texas Cinnamon Danish and Awrey Grande Cinnamon Swirl — also contain the chemical, they might have picked another late-night meal.