Is ‘buyer beware’ really the best food safety protection Americans can expect?
Why should the burden be on the average consumer to do hours of research on every single ingredient of every single food item just to avoid health risks that could make us sick or get cancer? Meanwhile, the FDA’s pro-corporatist laissez faire policy is allowing companies to continue putting these potentially carcinogenic, potentially dangerous additives – flagged as hazards by scientific researchers – into the food and get away with selling it to a largely trusting public?
Watch this original Truthstream Media video:
We have given Subway, the “Eat fresh!” restaurant, a lot of flak lately for the company’s $41 million ad campaign partnership with first lady Michelle Obama (can you say “corporatism”?) regarding her “Let’s Move!” kids healthy eating initiative. Why? Because, as shown in this video here, the restaurant dishes up some highly processed food with lots of chemical additives that don’t exactly bring the adjective “healthy” immediately to mind (or ever).
Vani Hari, over at FoodBabe.com, pressured Subway with a petition to remove dangerous, potential carcinogen azodicarbonamide from their breads just a few days ago; already the restaurant has vowed to remove it.
Bravo on that score, Subway. We have to give credit where credit is due. (Also, great job Vani!)
This Is a Great First Step – Now for All the Rest…
Now we need to get all these other restaurants — McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardees, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Steak ‘n Shake, Dunkin’ Donuts, Jack-in-the-Box, White Castle, etc. etc. ad nauseum (even Starbucks) — to also remove azodicarbonamide from their bread products as well.
That’s right, the vast majority of commercial breads in this country include azodicarbonamide. These restaurants do not make their bread with it in the countries where it is banned, but it is still served up to us here in the U.S. Obviously this chemical isn’t necessary. It’s not only found in U.S. restaurants, but in grocery stores as well.
Why should you be concerned?
Azodicarbonamide is a petroleum byproduct used as a dough conditioner and bleaching agent in commercial breads. As Vani points out, it has been banned in the U.K., Australia and other parts of Europe for causing allergic reactions, respiratory problems and asthma. The World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed 47 azodicarbonamide studies and concluded that the chemical likely does contribute to respiratory issues. If bakers were to include the chemical in their breads in Singapore, they would face up to 15 years in prison along with a possible $450,000 fine.
Not here, though, because apparently azodicarbonamide is considered “GRAS” here, or Generally Recognized As Safe in U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) terms. GRAS, it turns out, doesn’t really mean a whole lot, mostly because one of the primary ways a company’s food additive can get GRAS status is by the company “self-affirming” that an ingredient is safe, using a panel of experts of the company’s own choosing (in other words, no independent panels/studies) and keeping its own documentation of that safety on file. The FDA then can reply that it does not object to this self-assessment.
Worse, the FDA does not even require a company to submit a GRAS notification. Instead, a company can take a chance it won’t get called out on using an additive, and the FDA in turn can take action if the agency so chooses…
Seems a little like leaving the door open so wide, there might as well not even be a door.
Meanwhile, asthma and allergies are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the dangerous health issues that stem from using azodicarbonamide as a food additive.
Semicarbonazide, the Cancer-Linked By-product of Azodicarbonamide
According to multiple scientific studies, azodicarbonamide is a risky ingredient, not only in its own right, but in particular due to its production of the hazardous by-product semicarbonazide.
According to the WHO, “Azodicarbonamide is also used in certain pesticide formulations and industrial applications.” It’s breakdown product semicarbonazide hydrochloride is likewise used in pharmaceutical and pesticide applications.
Considered a food contaminant and banned in the EU and elsewhere, semicarbonazide is produced when azodicarbonamide is heated as well as in the hypochlorite process used to create many food additives, including carrageenan. It can also be found naturally in some foods.
Chinese researchers found significant trace levels of semicarbonazide in baked flour goods (which have been heated) that may be of concern for food safety, with greater levels of the compound found on the outside of foods, where it is exposed to direct baking heat.
Researchers from Greece noted that, “Semicarbazide (SEM) belongs to the hydrazine family of chemicals, some members of which are known to possess carcinogenic potential.” Various studies have backed this up with other concerning issues found in animal studies to include endocrine disruption, genotoxicity, reduced body weight and frame, skeletal deformities, smaller testicles and poor sperm quality and more.
While azodicarbonamide remains both legal and widely used in the United States, some have pointed to a 2005 study affirming its safety and dismissing the negligent amounts of semicarbazide as “not relevant to human exposure at trace levels” while downplaying the results found in lab animals. It should be noted this peered-reviewed research was conducted by affiliates of Cantox Health Sciences International, a known corporate advocacy group which has previously upheld the safety and general fantastic-ness of both Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup as well as aspartame — never minding the numerous studies to the contrary warning of food safety issues.
This is just one dangerous food additive flagged in just one kind of food. The full extent of the problem spans hundreds of chemicals over decades. If we really want safe food, are we really expected to do the research ourselves and then petition every establishment for each and every chemical? Or is the real answer in decentralizing the food supply and taking back control over what’s on the end of our forks?