FDA Should Ban Azodicarbonamide, Says CSPI

Statement of CSPI Senior Scientist Lisa Lefferts


Azodicarbonamide has long been used by commercial bakers to strengthen dough, but has been poorly tested. Two suspicious chemicals form when bread with azodicarbonamide is baked. One of the breakdown products is semicarbazide, which caused cancers of the lung and blood vessels in mice, but poses a negligible risk to humans. A second breakdown product, urethane, is a recognized carcinogen. When azodicarbonamide is used at its maximum allowable level, it leads to slightly increased levels of urethane in bread that pose a small risk to humans.

Considering that many breads don't contain azodicarbonamide and that its use slightly increases exposure to a carcinogen, this is hardly a chemical that we need in our food supply. We urge the Food and Drug Administration to consider whether the Delaney amendment, which bars the use of food additives that cause cancer in humans or animals, requires the agency to bar its use. At the very least, it should reduce the amount allowed to be used. Chains like Subway and McDonald's needn't wait and should get rid of it on their own. "Food Babe" blogger Vani Hari deserves credit for drawing the public's attention to this substance.

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