At the end of April, Subway announced that all sandwiches sold in the U.S. and Canada are free from azodicarbonamide. The press release of the company is a gem – making people believe that this was a strategic initiative of the brand:
“To our knowledge Subway is the first major restaurant chain in North America to completely remove Azodicarbonamide from its core bread formulations. (...)We take great pride in our bread leadership… Azodicarbonamide is used in most bread and by most brands, but removing it has long been part of our bread improvement program.”
In reality, Subway was actually under fire from social media, relayed by traditional media, since February: a blogger (www.foodbabe.com) asked Subway to conform to European and Australian regulations that prohibit this additive. It is a chemical blowing agent that makes the crust of the bread lighter – in the same way that it makes yoga mats or shoe soles lighter by creating air bubbles.
The activist work of this blogger was echoed by many other sites and studies have detailed the dangers of this substance banned in Europe (e.g. the Environmental Working Group). We have here an example that is interesting from two standpoints:
- It shows the growing impact of social media - that enable one to take action with regard to brands in countries where official bodies do not.
- It shows that in the domain of health, European regulations are now used as a good example to follow.
The question remains as to when other brands in the USA using azodicarbonamide will eliminate it from their recipes!