A chemical commonly found in yoga mats, flip-flops, and other plastic based products can also be found in over 500 food items on grocery store shelves today, reveals a report published Thursday by the Environmental Working Group.
Entitled Nearly 500 Ways to Make a Yoga Mat Sandwich, the report follows a successful campaign earlier this month which raised alarm bells over the chemical azodicarbonamide after it was discovered to be an ingredient in bread baked by the fast food chain Subway.
Thousands of people signed a petition calling for Subway to pull the ingredient from its production. The major chain finally bent to public pressure and announced it would soon take the chemical out of its bread.
However, as EWG reports, Subway is not the only company to use the chemical additive, which has been used by industrial bakers since the 1950s as a “dough conditioner” that "renders large batches of dough easier to handle and makes the finished products puffier and tough enough to withstand shipping and storage."
Azodicarbonamide, also known as ADA, has been known to cause respiratory symptoms and skin sensitization in workers who handle the chemical in large volumes. ADA has not undergone extensive testing—particularly for human ingestion in food products.
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However, the Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the product for human consumption at concentration levels of 45 parts per million. It has not been approved for food in the European Union or Australia, EWG reports.
The 500 products discovered to contain the chemical in U.S. stores are made by 130 companies, including well-known brands such as Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker’s, Fleischman’s, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Tyson, Nature’s Own and Wonder, as well as fast-food chains such as Starbucks, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts.
“ADA is just one example of an American food supply awash in chemical additives that can be mixed into foods with little oversight or safety review,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist and co-author of the analysis. “Americans have regularly eaten this chemical along with hundreds of other questionable food additives for years. That is why we are putting together an online database that will enable consumers to make more informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed to their family.”
Click here to see the full list of brands who use the chemical in their products.