Thursday, February 13, 2014

Subway Food Fight

Click to sign the petition!

  I always try to find the right balance between sharing my own thoughts and things that are going on in my life, with things I come across that I think are worth sharing.

  You can go ahead and put today's entry into the 'things I think are worth sharing' category.

  Previously, I've written about the US Food Supply in comparison to the European food system.

  There are particular American companies that have made it a practice to alter their products' recipes for the European market (because of their usage of banned ingredients), meanwhile leaving the potentially harmful ingredients in the same foods distributed in the US.

Why the altered recipes?
  Many times, recipes are changed because a banned (in the European Union, that is) ingredient is used. For example, the US version of Betty Crocker Red Velvet cake has artificial colors, which are banned in the United Kingdom because they are linked to hyperactivity in children, food cravings, and obesity. In order for that product to be sold on European shelves, the recipe needs to be reformulated to match stricter foods laws.

  In the US, there are no such bans, so Betty Crocker leaves the questionable ingredient in, more-often-than-not because it is the cheapest way to produce the food.

  Other times, they alter the recipe in Europe simply to avoid a genetically modified organism label being slapped on their product. In the EU, GMOs are required to be labeled. To avoid that stigma, recipes are altered, and genetically modified ingredients are removed.

  So they can adjust their recipes for overseas distribution, but refuse to do the same for their American consumers.

  This happens across the board with processed foods -- from cereals, to candy, to chips. The recipes are altered to provide safer products for European consumers. While in the US, companies continue to produce their foods in the least expensive way, with little regard to public health (hello, FDA?).

Consumer action in action. It works!
  There's a woman who goes by the name Food Babe leading the charge against these companies. Don't let the cutesy nickname fool you, the Food Babe is one tough cookie. She takes these huge corporations head-on, and doesn't back down.

  In the last year alone, consumer interest, participation, and outrage has lead to Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Kraft, General Mills (Cheerios), Gatorade, and even Johnson & Johnson to change their ways.

  They've become more transparent, and they've listened to the consumers. That's an incredible starting point.

The Food Babe versus Kraft Mac & Cheese
  Almost one year ago, the Food Babe set her sights on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. In the US, the recipe contained the artificial food dyes Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. In the EU and UK, these dyes are not in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese because they are considered harmful and were removed due to consumer outcry.

  The Food Babe started a petition, over 300-thousand people signed it, and soon enough, Kraft listened to its challengers, and removed the artificial dyes from some of their products.

New Challenge
  Now, just last week, the Food Babe has re-focused on Subway and their breads.

Even Jimmy Fallon is in on the fight against yoga mat breads.

  She discovered that Subway makes bread with an ingredient called azodicarbonamide. This ingredient can be found in almost all the breads at Subway in the US, but not in Europe, Australia or other parts of the world.

  Azodicarbonamide is the same chemical used to make yoga mats, shoe soles, and other rubbery objects. Given those uses, it probably isn't meant for human consumption.

  Subway uses this ingredient as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner which allows them to produce bread faster and cheaper without considering the following health consequences and facts:
  • The World Health Organization has linked it to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma. 
  • When a truck carrying azodicarbonamide overturned on a Chicago highway in 2001, it prompted city officials to issue the highest hazardous materials alert and evacuate people within a half mile radius. Many of the people on the scene complained of burning eyes and skin irritation as a result.
  • The U.K. Health And Safety Executive has recognized azodicarbonamide as a potential cause of asthma.
  • When azodicarbonamide is heated, there are studies that show it is linked to tumor development and cancer.
  • Not only is this ingredient banned in Europe and Australia, but you also get fined 450,000 dollars if you get caught using it in Singapore and can serve 15 years in prison.
  Go here to join over 90,000 others, and ask Subway to remove azodicarbonamide, because we deserve the same safer ingredients Subway serves in other countries.

  Subway has responded to the Food Babe, saying that they they would be removing azodicarbonamide from their breads 'soon'. However, they did not respond when asked for a timeline, or a new ingredient list.

Healthy versus Safe
  While none of these foods scream healthy, sometimes convenience takes precedence. And that's why many of these foods are consumed, because they are convenient.

  We all want to be able to make a nice home cooked meal for our families all the time. But sometimes, we're in a time crunch, or we're tired. It's in the those times, we might call on these products. So we might as well make sure they're safe, right?

  All anyone is looking for is a safe food supply. Why a recipe is deemed harmful in one country, yet allowed in another, is beyond me. That's a blog for another day.

  The foundation is there, the recipes have been altered around the world. Now, all we need is the execution in the US.

Ingredients Banned in Other Countries, Remain in US Food Supply
Subway Petition Update
Subway Petition

M&M Analysis: Altered Recipes in Europe Remove GMOs
Do You Know What GMOs Are?
Banned Foods We Eat Every Day

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