The Environmental Working Group has called for the removal of ADA, an industrial plastics chemical that is an additive in nearly 500 food products on store shelves in the United States.
The chemical azodicarbonamide – ADA – is an ingredient in breads, bagels, tortillas, hamburger and hot dog buns, pizza, pastries, and other food products, the Environmental Working Group reports. ADA is found in such national brands as Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Smucker’s, Fleischman’s, Little Debbie, Tyson, Nature’s Own, and Wonder. Fast food chain Subway announced earlier this month that it was removing the chemical from the breads it uses in its sandwiches, but the company also said ADA is considered a safe ingredient, according to Reuters.
A news release from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), explains that ADA, a “chemical foaming agent” is used by plastics makers to generate tiny bubbles that make materials light, spongy, and strong, and these materials are used in flip-flops, yoga mats, and foam packing and insulation. ADA is a flour bleaching agent, and is also used as a “dough conditioner” to make bread rise higher and stay soft and resilient. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ADA as a food additive at levels up to 45 ppm (parts per million). But the World Health Organization has linked ADA to increased risk of respiratory problems and skin irritation in workers handling large volumes of the chemical. ADA has not undergone extensive testing to determine its health effects on humans, and the European Union and Australia do not allow ADA as a food additive, according to EWG.
The Environmental Working Group is calling on food manufacturers to immediately end the use of ADA in food. EWG will launch an online public awareness campaign and the group has posted a list of foods that contain ADA. EWG recommends reducing exposure to ADA.