Last Updated on May 20, 2023 by Max
Azodicarbonamide: The Bread Improver with Potential Health Concerns
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?
- 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.