subwaySubway has bowed to public pressure and criticism over the recent revelations surrounding their questionable use of a mainly plastic-based additive in their bread, known as azodicarbonamide or azobisformamide. The information went viral after Vani Hari, blogger and founder of FoodBabe.com set up a petition asking the restaurant to remove the ingredients, which already had over 80,000 signatures within a matter of days.

Subway restaurants throughout the UK, EU, Australia, and other nations do not permit the use of azodicarbonamide in their bread, and if you use it in Singapore it will come with some severe penalties (up to 15 years in prison or a $450,000 fine). Those in North America who continue to use the additive in their bread recipes: 9-Grain Wheat, 9-Grain Honey Oat, Italian White, Italian Herbs & Cheese, Parmesan/Oregano, Roasted Garlic, Sourdough, and Monterrey Cheddar. Azodicarbonamide, a chemical used to make yoga mats and shoe rubber, has been linked to respiratory issues, allergies, and asthma.

Fast food items holding unknown, unnecessary, or questionable ingredients isn’t a new trend howevereating. “It’s strange” says former baker and owner of The Lick Skillet Bakery in Colorado, Mark Rubi:

“I look at the commercial breads available these days, and the ingredient lists are scary. Take fast food for example, the typical bun at a fast food burger chain has 20 or more chemicals in addition to the main ingredients! Is this really something [we should] be eating?”

The azodicarbonamide acts as a bleaching agent in the bread by reacting with the carotene in the flour to make the bread whiter, and is also believed to improve the strength of the flour by improving the elasticity. Granted, sufficient bread with acceptable coloring and elasticity can be made with simple ingredients of: water, yeast, sugar, flour, salt, and oil or shortening. Although Subway has denied bending to pressure from the petition, they have decided to remove the chemical from their bread.

subwayhSubway has stated that it is in the process of removing the chemical from its bread shops in Canada and throughout the U.S., as part of an ongoing effort to improve it’s recipes. “The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon,” Subway said in a statement, without providing further details.