NEW YORK (KDKA) – Making yoga mats and making a Subway sandwich take a common ingredient — a chemical called azodicarbonamide.
Subway is removing this component from its products by the end of next week.
At least a portion of the U.S. population is concerned about it, so they’re trying to be proactive in alleviating those concerns,” says Dr. Michael Lynch, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Control Center.
The chemical is used to produce foamed plastics and synthetic leather, and to keep flour stable during baking, for example, to make the bread for a Subway sandwich.
In the U.S., it’s considered safe in flour at 45 parts per million.
Because it’s in the flour, baked goods beyond Subway can contain this. Eating it is not known to cause any harm.
“We absorb very, very little of this. Most of it just stays in your GI tract, and it goes away essentially,” explains Dr. Lynch.
Even so, some people feel better knowing it’s gone.
“If it’s a chemical, I’d prefer to have it out,” said one person.
“I’m glad, because I eat there a lot,” added another.
“If one store or restaurant starts it, maybe others will follow,” another person said.
“It tastes the same to me,” said another person.
“I’ve eaten at Subway, and I’ll eat there again,” a Subway customer added.
A theoretical concern is for industrial workers handling the chemical. They could have an allergic or asthmatic reaction.
In Europe, the compound is banned.
“People are and need to be concerned about what they’re putting in their body. So, if you have a chemical and you’re not sure of the effect, it’s not necessarily unreasonable to not allow it,” says Dr. Lynch. “Most likely it is not dangerous.”