By Stephanie Glover, Web Producer/Digital Journalist - email
A local health activist launched a petition earlier this week, calling on Subway Restaurants to remove a controversial ingredient from its sandwich bread. Vani Hari, also known as Food Babe, is demanding that the “Eat Fresh” sandwich franchise honors its mantra.
On Tuesday, Hari launched a petition for the restaurant to remove Azodiacarbonamide from its bread. Azodiacarbonamide is a controversial ingredient used in foamed plastics like yoga mats and shoe rubber. It is banned in several countries and linked to respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies according to the World Health Organization.
It took merely 24 hours for the petition to gain over 65,000 signatures. Subway's Facebook page was bombarded with concerned customers and citizens. Within a day, Subway announced it is working to remove Azodicarbonamide from their breads, claiming they were planning to do that anyway.
Hari, who has been on Subway about this controversial ingredient since 2012, says that this is just another example of the power behind the consumer dollar.
“This fast response from Subway indicates the untapped power of the consumer to change the food industry and I am so proud of our victory,” said Hari.
A representative from Subway said the brand started the process of removing the controversial ingredient before the start of the petition.
" We are already in the process of removing Azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is a USDA and FDA approved ingredient. The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon," said Subway.
Azodicarbonamide is banned in the UK, Europe, and Australia. In Singapore, people caught using this chemical ingredient can be fined $450,000 and can serve 15 years in prison. It is commonly used in explicitly non-edible products like yoga mats, shoe rubber and synthetic leather.
In the wake of Michelle Obama’s latest endorsement of Subway and the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in which Subway is a prominent sponsor, Hari felt it prudent and timely that the American public known the truth about Subway bread. Hari says as the largest restaurant chain in the world, Subway owes a responsibility to the eating public.
"If an American company has figured out a way to reformulate a safer food product for countries overseas, then I believe Americans deserve the same," said Hari. “It’s rather shocking that we are still being fed ingredients which are no longer used and banned elsewhere for health reasons."
Signatures on Hari’s petition will be sent to the CEO of Subway Fred Deluca, Head of Global Marketing Jeff Larson, and Director of Operations Joe Chaves. For live signature totals from the Hari Petition, visit foodbabe.com.
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