How You’re Eating ‘Yoga Mat’ Plastic in the Comfort of Your Kitchen

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Yoga mat sandwiches aren’t just available at Subway — food products stocked in your cupboards may contain the controversial chemical as well. The use of azodicarbonamide (ADA) is widespread by the food industry as a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows. It analyzed ingredients in grocery store items, and ADA popped up nearly 500 times.

The ADA spotlight started to shine when the creator of, Vani Hari, started a campaign to get Subway to remove the chemical from its breads. Hari stated in a post she targeted Subway because she was tired of the chain passing itself off as “healthy” and “fresh” when it was using chemicals in its bread.

“ADA is just one example of an American food supply awash in chemical additives that can be mixed into foods with little oversight or safety review,” David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist said in a press release. “Americans have regularly eaten this chemical along with hundreds of other questionable food additives for years. That is why we are putting together an online database that will enable consumers to make more informed decisions about the foods they eat and feed to their family.”

EWG explains that ADA is a synthetic substance used to create small bubbles in order to make strong, but light materials — like yoga mats and flip flops. It took on a new role in 1956 when an engineering and pharmaceutical firm in New Jersey realized it could be used as a “dough conditioner.” Adding it to the bread making process caused bread to rise higher, stay softer, and resulted in a more visually appealing product. The report specifies that the firm discovered the new bread was “light, soft, and suitably moist, yet suitably firm or resilient, and that [had] crusts and internal properties of a pleasing and palatable nature.”

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