Azodicarbonamide : Why Is This Potential Carcinogen Still Being Added To Fast Food In The USA?

Refreshing right, our United Kingdom is actually looking after us compared to the USA who are evidently still adding a substance called Azodicarbonamide to their food. This is in spite of warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that suggests this additive may well be a carcinogen! How is this happening?? Now I understand certain ingredients are added to foods in innocence, with the best of intentions, only to be later proven as harmful. If this occurs, then the food additive would be removed from the food and discontinued. Granted some food additives are speculative, in other words their potential harm does not have a direct cause and effect and therefore they keep appearing in the food we eat, but with governing bodies as influential and robust as the WHO advising against Azodicarbonamides use, you’d think this would be enough? Where is the line, and when does the harm outweigh the potential benefit? 

Well, in Azodicarbonamide’s case, it seems the potential benefit is no longer worth the risk here in the UK, and thankfully we have heeded the advice. So why are fast food chains in America still using it, particularly when all it basically does is bleach the bread/ buns i.e. making it a more vibrant white. Do me a favour, since when did the vibrancy of bread matter, opt for a granary slice and be done with it guys! I am not meaning to be a cynic here, nor am I jumping on the ‘hate fast food’ band wagon, instead I am acknowledging the potential harmful effects of a food additive that frankly has no business being in food. Azodicarbonamide is one of the main ingredients found in yoga mats, rubber shoe soles and synthetic leather, and what a good job it does in those commodities too, but petrol works really well in a car, but you wouldn’t add it to a protein shake now would you (DO NOT ingest petrol for those considering it, it is seriously damaging to your health)!

The point I’m making here is that Azodicarbonamide is being added to foods in the US despite the WHO asserting that it may be linked to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma. Does the whiteness of bread matter that much as to warrant dicing with death? Azodiacarbonamide is approved by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and it is used as a dough conditioner in bread baking, but the American fast food chain Subway, still has it in their bread. In response to petitions demanding the removal of Azodicarbonamide, the US chain ‘Subway’ is actioning plans to remove it from its bread, so too are the likes of Mcdonalds and other major fast food chains.

The UK and Europe have taken action in banning this additive, let’s hope the US, in particular Senator Charles Schumer take note and follow our lead on this one.

Reference, (2014). Schumer: FDA should ban chemical used in fast food dough. Retrieved 12th February, 2014, from

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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