The Spotlight’s on Unnecessary Chemicals in Fast Food

subway

The petition against Subway to remove the chemical azodicarbonamide from their breads gave rise to some pretty funny social media jokes (like how now we all know where that unique subway bread scent comes from). And it’s definitely a good thing that this major chain is making a move to go more natural, and less chemical with it’s food products, even if it was under major public pressure. It made me pretty happy I have never been a fan of their sandwiches when I read the coverage. But, the same chemical is found in many products on other fast food restaurants menus, including:

  • McDonald’s: regular bun, bakery style bun, bagel and English muffin, Big Mac bun and sesame seed bun.
  • Burger King: specialty buns, artisan-style bun, sesame seed bun, croissant, English muffin, home-style Caesar croutons and French toast sticks.
  • Wendy’s: bagel, premium toasted bun, sandwich bun and panini bread
  • Arby’s: croissant, French toast sticks, harvest wheat bun, honey wheat bread, marble rye bread, mini bun, onion bread and sesame seed bun
  • Jack in the Box: bakery style bun, jumbo bun, croissant, grilled sourdough bread and regular bun
  • Chick-fil-A: chargrilled chicken sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, and chargrilled chicken club sandwich
  • Dunkin’ Donuts: Danish, Croissant, and Texas Toast.

These other chains have not indicated an intention to remove the ingredient from their products, with the exception of Starbucks, which has already started a transition away from baked goods containing the chemical. So how concerned should you be? While it seems better to avoid it, there is no need to panic if you’ve been eating $5 foot longs for lunch every day. Europe and Australia ban the use of the ingredient, but it is actually FDA approved for use in controlled amounts. It has had bad effects in animal studies. It increases the level of urethane, a carcinogen, in bread when baked, but seems most harmful in its industrial form for workers exposed to it in high levels. The ingredient may not be desirable, but it is not so dangerous that it has been poisoning customers. Yet it is something to think about next time you find yourself looking for a quick bite. Is it really worth taking in all of those unnecessary chemicals from processed foods, or just waiting until you get home to make yourself a sandwich?

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