Although they are labeled as “safe” and “healthy,” these and hundreds of foods in the United States just like them contain a potentially hazardous industrial chemical, according to a new report.
Roughly 500 foods found on most grocery store shelves have been discovered to contain azodicarbonamide – also known as ADA – according to a report released by the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group and reported by Reuters. The chemical compound is listed as a bleaching and oxidizing agent in bread loaves, pizza dough, pastries, bagels and tortillas, as well as hamburger and hot dog buns. ADA also boosts gluten formation in wheat, helping it to rise better.
Not only foods, ADA can be found in everyday household items, too, such as your foam-rubber yoga mats and even your sneakers. Primarily used in the rubber and plastics industries, ADA helps to improve the elasticity of a wide range of polymers, such as polyvinyl chloride and polyolefins, as well as natural and synthetic rubbers.
According to the World Health Organization, the expanding agent can cause asthma, the chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. It can also lead to a host of other respiratory symptoms and sensitive skin. But these mainly affect workers who manufacture or handle massive amounts of ADA.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, ADA has long been considered safe to use in food. As a food additive, though, it may only be used in small amounts: No more than .0045 percent of treated flour, in fact. Still, ADA is banned as a food additive in Australia and in parts of Europe.
Following the report, the Environmental Working Group, along with consumer advocacy organizations and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, called on manufacturers to remove ADA from many American food items. As a result, fast food chain Subway told the press in February that it planned to stop using the plastics chemical in its own products.
In the meantime, try to eat far less fast food, instead cooking more meals at home and using whole food products. Also, try replacing white bread with rice and grains, and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Yes, this takes time and effort, but your body will thank you.