The food debate: Are chemical additives dangerous? - KCTV5

The food debate: Are chemical additives dangerous?

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Chemical additives like azodicarbonamide, which can be found in most soft breads, can be off-putting, but are they dangerous?

"It is linked to allergies, asthma and respiratory issues," said Vani Hari, creator of FoodBabe.com.

Hari collected more than 65,000 signatures in one day to urge Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from its bread.

"That is something that is completely man-made, has no nutritional value and poses a huge risk to our health," Hari said.

Azodicarbonamide can be found in Wonder Bread and many other brands, but Hari targeted Subway because of its "Eat Fresh" campaign.

"To think that something along those lines is in something we consume is a little scary, yes," said Tyler Fowler, of Kansas City.

"I would default to the FDA. If the FDA deems it safe, some of this could be hyper-reactions," said Brad Alcock, another Kansas Citian.

"These names sound scary but it doesn't mean they are," said Tama Sawyer, a toxicologist with a background in chemistry.

Sawyer said the dangers are debatable.

Take what is being called the yoga mat comparison. The ingredient isn't plastic or rubber; it is what makes plastic mats airier.

"It's not eating the yoga mat, no. It would be like eating the air spaces in the yoga mat," Sawyer said.

Sawyer crunched the numbers and found, based on what the FDA allows in bread flour, a person weighing about 170 pounds would have to eat 305 tons of flour to reach the level found toxic in rats.

"We're talking about a minuscule amount. We're talking about a raindrop. There are contaminates in a raindrop. Should we be afraid of the rain? I don't think so," Sawyer concluded.

But Hari has to wonder, if it's not bad for you, why is it banned in food in the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia?

"There's got to be a true reason to why they banned it, and if the U.S. is still serving it to their citizens, we need to look at that. We need to study this," Hari said.

Sawyer said the study linking the azodicarbonamide to asthma involved people working at factories and inhaling it in large quantities.

Subway said it is removing the chemical from its bread, not because of criticism from Hari or others but as part of its "bread improvement efforts."

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