500 Foods with the "Yoga Mat" Chemical

As many of you have read or heard in recent headlines, popular sandwich chain, Subway, has been under fire for including a chemical foaming agent used to make yoga mats (called azodicarbonamide or ADA) in their breads.  At first, Subway defended its practices by stating that this chemical helped maintain the bread's texture and shape.  Concern for their profit margin however, prompted them to issue recent statements that they will soon remove the chemical from their foods.  Is this too little, too late for Subway's PR staff? How many foods out there contain ADA?  And just how dangerous is this ADA chemical to humans?

Image courtesy of UndergroundHealth.com 

ADA is a popular chemical used in the plastics industry in items such as attic insulation, flip flops, and of course, yoga mats.  This chemical is added to create a light yet strong material with maximum flexibility, which does indeed coincide with Subway's reasoning for adding the chemical to their bread.  On the surface, this strategy would make sense.  Customers don't want a sandwich that falls apart, and they don't want smashed bread either, so Subway found a cost effective method of keeping customers appeased from their convenience and aesthetic concerns.  The things companies do to keep nit-picky customers happy, right?  This chemical also benefits companies' profits margins because it also saves lots of manufacturing time to produce these items.  ADA allows flour to age at a significantly faster rate, making the flour suitable for baking much sooner than letting it age naturally.  The FDA gave it the green light, while Europe and Australia (among others) have banned this chemical for human consumption.

The "Yoga Mat" chemical, is found in more foods than we think.  Product data company, FoodEssentials, researched their database of 80.000 food products and discovered about 500 items containing the ADA chemical.  Here's is a short list of the more common items, but you can check out the full list here:

Common Foods with ADA:

  • Brand:  Ball Park.  Products:  Hot Dog Buns, Flame Grilled Sliders
  • Brand:  Betty Crocker.  Products:  Caeser Pasta Salad
  • Brand:  Fiber One.  Products:  Hamburger & Hot Dog Buns
  • Brand:  Fleischmann's.  Products:  Simply Homemade No Knead Bread & Pretzel Mixes
  • Brand:  IHOP.  Products:  French Toast Breakfast Sandwiches
  • Brand:  Jimmy Dean.  Products:  Delights Breakfast Sandwiches, French Toast Griddlers, Muffin Sandwiches, & Bagel Sandwiches
  • Brand:  Kroger.  Products:  Enriched White Bread & White Hamburger Buns
  • Brand:  Little Debbie.  Products:  Danish Pastries, Honey Buns & Cinnamon Rolls
  • Brand:  Marie Callender's.  Products:  Croissant Sandwiches & Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
  • Brand:  Orowheat.  Products:  Raisin Cinnamon Bread
  • Brand:  Pillsbury.  Products:  Toaster Strudels, Toaster Scrambles, Pizza Crusts. Italian Bread, Crusty French Loaves, Original Breadsticks & Artisan Dinner Rolls
  • Brand:  Rosen's.  Products:  Sweet Hawaiian Rolls
  • Brand:  Sara Lee.  Products:  Deluxe Bagels, Breakfast Breads, Smooth and Soft Breads, Honey Wheat Bread, Hearty and Delicious Rolls & Breads, Cinnamon Rolls, & White Bread
  • Brand:  Smucker's.  Products:  Uncrustables Sandwiches
  • Brand:  Tyson.  Products:  Mini Chicken Sandwiches
  • Brand:  Walmart Bakeries.  Products:  Glazed Yeast Donuts & Jumbo Croissants
  • Brand:  Weight Watchers Smart Ones.  Products:  English Muffin Sandwiches & Homestyle Turkey Breast with Stuffing
  • Brand:  White Castle.  Products: Microwavable Hamburgers
  • Brand:  Wonder.  Products:  Light Wheat Bread, Texas Toast Bread, Potato Hot Dog Buns

While the FDA alleges that there is no evidence of health risks by consuming ADA, the UK thinks otherwise.  The UK's Health and Safety Executive, responsible for overseeing workplace health and well-being, discovered that ADA caused various respiratory issues in an industrial environment.  While that obviously is not in a household setting, that research was enough for their Food Standards Agency to say no thanks.  Pretty logical if you ask me, the FDA, however, does not seem to make that connection.

Worldwide chains like Subway (which is actually the world's biggest fast food chain), might not see a catastrophic dent in their bottom line, the rising amount of health-conscious citizens in the US could certainly cause enough of a stir to close a number of franchises.  Only time will tell if their PR staff did enough damage control.

Certainly, there will always be groups of skeptics and naysayers touting that it would be near impossible to rid our lives of every single potentially harmful chemical in our food, and they would be right.  My advice:  Read your food labels.  If any ingredients are unpronounceable, don't buy it.  If that proves difficult, then try to make sure that any chemical ingredients don't staggeringly outnumber the real ones.  Cook at home more often, and use as few pre-made foods as possible.  If your local grocer bakes bread in-house, buy from them instead of getting that packaged loaf that was trucked in from who knows where.  Let's make sure we think about what we're eating, so that your families can live longer, healthier lives.  Don't expect big businesses to do the thinking for you, it might not always be in your best interests.


  1. now I know. thank you. when I ate a subway I never felt like I had ate food, always left a hollow feeling, like I could eat another with no problem. No more Subways for me.