‘Yoga mat’ chemical in Subway bread to be removed by next week: company

Subway says that by next week, its sandwich bread will be free of chemicals that are said to be used in yoga mats and shoe soles. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

TORONTO – Six-inch sandwich lovers, today’s your day: Subway says that by next week, its sandwich bread will be free of chemicals that are said to be used in yoga mats and shoe soles.

The move comes just two months after it faced consumer backlash when a U.S. food blogger launched a petition against the sandwich giant to remove azodicarbonamide from its bread.

Turns out, the chemical additive was in the Canadian sandwich, too. Now, a Subway spokesperson told Global News that it’s introducing “azo-free” bread across North America.

READ MORE: Chemical in Subway bread also in Canada, but will be removed, says company

“To our knowledge, Subway is the first major restaurant chain in North America to completely remove azodicarbonamide from its core bread formulations,” the company said in a statement.

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“At Subway, we take great pride in our bread leadership.”

The company said since 2013, it was already in the process of eliminating the chemical from its recipe. In February, it told Global News that the process was pending further government approvals.

Read the full statement here.

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Upon hearing the news, food blogger Vani Hari – known as Food Babe – said that she’s looking forward to seeing the updated list of ingredients in Subway’s bread recipe.

“This is just the beginning. The announcement is an indication that companies can no longer hide from consumers knowing the truth, they can no longer get away with deceptive marketing,” Hari told Global News. Hari said she had targeted Subway because it told consumers they would “eat fresh” with its fare.

Hari’s petition received nearly 97,000 signatures. (You might remember her for spearheading a crusade urging Kraft to remove the orange dyes from the iconic Kraft dinner.)

“This is proof that people have the power to change the food industry.”

READ MORE: Canadians join crusade to remove orange dyes from Kraft Dinner

The World Health Organization linked azodicarbonamide to respiratory issues, asthma and allergies. Hari says that the chemical is used to make yoga mats, shoe soles and other rubbery objects.

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In Subway’s case, it’s being used as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner, which allows them to produce bread faster and cheaper, according to Hari’s petition.

Azodiacarbonamide is safe when used as an “aging or bleaching” ingredient and as long as it doesn’t exceed 45 parts per million, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The media contact for Subway Canada did not provide details about how much is used in the sandwich bread in Canada.

READ MORE: Would a trans fat ban in the U.S. affect Canadians?

Subway isn’t the only company to make a change in response to consumer feedback. Here are some recent examples of recipe changes by major food makers:

  • Starbucks removed cochineal extract, a red dye made from crushed bugs, from its food and drinks after an online petition.
  • PepsiCo removed brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade. An online petition had noted the ingredient’s link to flame retardants.
  • Kraft Foods says it will reformulate select varieties of its macaroni and cheese next year to use natural colours.

With files from the Associated Press

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