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Thousands Petition Against Bread Additive Also Found In Yoga Mats
March 7, 2014

Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox Lindsey Williams, like many, regularly reads food labels.

"Oh every day, it's definitely something I have to be aware about, not only because of food allergies that I suffer from, but also because of health reasons," she said.

Recently, an ingredient that you may have never even noticed on a label is coming under fire.

"It's a pretty big deal to realize the harmful substances that are hiding in our food," Cabell Huntington Hospital clinical dietician Tiffany Lockhart said.

The chemical-- Azodicarbonimide- is used as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner in more than 500 grocery store products and restaurants all over the country, including Subway, McDonalds, Arbys and Burger King.

"Basically it just produces a faster, cheaper product but it can definitely be made without it," Lockhart said.

You can also find it in products like yoga mats, flip flops, and shoe rubber.

"That's one of the risks you take of choosing a processed food, is you know oftentimes they have to put in these chemicals to make them more shelf stable, or make them taste better," Williams said.

The chemical, also known as ADA, has recently made headlines after nearly 100,000 people signed a petition for Subway to remove it from its bread products, prompted by a popular food blogger. ADA is already banned in the European Union, Australia, and parts of Asia, but is "Generally Recognized as Safe" from the FDA in the U.S. The World Health Organization has linked it to asthma and other respiratory issues.

"You actually kind of have to be a health advocate for yourself, and take it in to your own hands, and kind of get out the magnifying glass and start looking at the ingredient list more closely," Lockhart said.

Lockhart said the best way to avoid potentially harmful chemicals and additives is to stick to whole foods.

"The fewer the ingredients, generally, the healthier the product is," she said. "If you notice when you buy more natural food, they're not always perfect, they might spoil a little bit faster, but if you can just take appreciate for the companies that make foods with simple ingredients, it usually tastes better, and you feel better after you eat it."

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