After a media firestorm surrounding a highly controversial ingredient in its bread, the Subway company gave in to consumer pressure in April 2014, removing the bleaching agent and dough conditioner azodicarbonamide from its recipe.
It was a win for the food integrity movement sparked by the food blogger and activist Vani Hari, aka the Food Babe, but Subway wasn’t the only company adding the ingredient to its breads, as this article from our website showed in a random testing of popular supermarket breads.
In that original article, our random supermarket test found that 9 of 15 major breads contained azodicarbonamide, and that all of them almost certainly contained GMOs.
The lack of truly natural bread is shocking to say the least, but the good news is that thanks to the activism of influencers like Hari and millions of food integrity activists across the web, change is possible by making our voices heard.
Progress? Most Major Brands Remove Yoga Mat Chemical
In a return visit to a Michigan-based Kroger store just outside of Detroit, I went back through the bread aisle, taking stock of the nine different breads that originally contained azodicarbonamide back in February to see whether they still contained the infamous chemical.
This time around, I encountered a bit of good news: only two of the bread products still contained the chemical, Kroger Whole Wheat White hamburger buns, and perhaps the most surprising, the “old fashion” Hillbilly brand bread, produced by the Aunt Millie’s company.
The other seven breads did not contain the chemical, but they did contain a wide variety of different dough conditioners ranging from sodium stearoyl lactylate (which actually makes the gluten in bread “stronger”) to DATEM and ascorbic acid.
Two of the most common additives found in these breads include the aforementioned DATEM and mono and diglycerides, and while they might not be as bad as azodicarbonamide, there is a strong case for avoiding them as a consumer.
Both of these additives are added to ensure that processed breads don’t go stale as quickly as truly natural breads do, while also enabling a quicker production process (at the expense of your health).
(RELATED READING: Six Reasons Our Bread Just Ain’t What It Used to Be)
As you may have guessed, these aren’t exactly the highest quality ingredients, as NaturallySavvy.com noted in this article:
These inexpensive man-made fats have replaced the natural (and costlier) ingredients, lard and butter. By and large, they are byproducts of fats and oils processing–including partial hydrogenation, a process that produces trans fats. The FDA requires labeling of trans fats, but only if a food contains more than 0.49 g per serving and only if it comes from triglycerides.
Because mono- and diglycerides are not triglycerides, food manufacturers use this as a loophole to use – and to hide – trans fats. Although they provide 9 calories per gram, they are not required to be included in the Total Fat or Calories on a Nutrition Facts label, and they are not identified as trans fats either!
Monoglycerides were found in some form in 8 of 9 breads examined including: Sun Maid cinnamon raisin bread, Sara Lee bagels (blueberry this time), Kroger whole wheat white hamburger buns, Healthy Life 100% whole grain, Bunny Extra Soft, Mother’s soft enriched white bread, Sunbeam white, and Private Selection Sugar Free 100% whole wheat (Hillbilly bread was the ninth examined and of course has azodicarbonamide).
Final Thoughts: While it’s encouraging that the “yoga mat” chemical has been removed from so many major breads, the shell game continues with unhealthy dough conditioners being added into the mix within the recipes of the same breads.
Considering the huge presence of unsavory ingredients like these in processed bread, you’re best off looking for a local organic variety if you do choose to eat bread.
Among national brands, Ezekiel sprouted grain bread and Rudi’s (not to be mistaken for Udi’s) Organic Bakery stand out as quality organic choices.
Until next time, keep raising your voice and demanding food integrity. We’ve still got plenty of work to do, if the results of this quick survey are any indication.