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Azodicarbonamide: The Bread Improver with Potential Health Concerns

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Last Updated on July 7, 2024 by Max

Welcome to the Seventh Part of Our Food Safety Series

In this installment of our food safety series, we explore Azodicarbonamide, commonly added to bread in the U.S. as a dough conditioner. This ingredient, while enhancing bread’s texture and color, brings with it a host of health concerns. Join us as we delve into the controversy surrounding Azodicarbonamide, examining its effects on health and the differing regulatory stances between the European Union and the United States.

Bread is a universal staple, enjoyed in various forms across the world. However, the bread-making process may involve more than flour, water, and yeast. In some parts of the U.S., a chemical called Azodicarbonamide is added as a dough conditioner and bleaching agent (U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2020).

Azodicarbonamide improves the texture and whiteness of bread, making it more appealing to consumers. However, this ingredient is not without its controversies. The main concern about Azodicarbonamide is its potential link to respiratory issues.

When heated, Azodicarbonamide can break down into two chemicals: semicarbazide and urethane (U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2020). Semicarbazide has been found to have toxic effects in animals, while urethane is recognized as a possible human carcinogen (U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 2020). Moreover, occupational exposure to Azodicarbonamide has been associated with asthma and other respiratory symptoms among workers in the plastics and food industries (Baur X. et al., 1998).

Given these potential health risks, the European Union has banned using Azodicarbonamide in food production (European Parliament and Council of the European Union, 2008). However, it is still permitted in the U.S., though some major food chains have phased it out of their products due to consumer pressure (Subway, 2014).

The case of Azodicarbonamide underscores another instance of the different food safety regulations between the EU and the U.S. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of consumer awareness and the power of public demand for healthier food options.

As we continue to explore these topics, we would love to hear your thoughts. Are you concerned about the additives in your food? What steps do you take to ensure your food is safe and healthy?


As we conclude our examination of Azodicarbonamide, we are reminded of the complex challenges in balancing food safety with industrial convenience. The contrasting approaches to food additives regulation in the EU and U.S. highlight the need for informed consumer choices and advocacy for healthier food options. What are your views on the use of such chemicals in food production? How do you prioritize health when it comes to processed foods? We invite you to share your thoughts and join the discussion on this important topic.


  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2020). Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, Volume 3, Section 172.806 Azodicarbonamide. Washington, D.C.: FDA.
  • Baur, X., et al. (1998). Bakery Asthma Due to Azodicarbonamide. Allergy, 53(11), 1092-1094. European Parliament and Council of the European Union. (2008).
  • Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on food additives. Brussels. Subway. (2014). Press Release: The SUBWAY Brand Commits to Removing Azodicarbonamide. Milford, CT: Subway.

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