True Cellular Formulas Team - September 18, 2023

The Hidden Danger in Your Bread

Azodicarbonamide, the Yoga Mat

The Hidden Danger in Your Bread

Bread has been a staple in diets around the world for centuries. From a quick sandwich for lunch to the essential dinner rolls at family gatherings, we consume it in numerous forms. But how much do we know about the ingredients that go into our daily bread? One controversial ingredient that's raising eyebrows is azodicarbonamide. Also used in the manufacture of yoga mats and shoe soles, this chemical has some unsettling side effects and is even banned in certain parts of the world. In this blog, we will uncover the truths about azodicarbonamide and why its presence in our food should be a cause for concern.

What is Azodicarbonamide?

Azodicarbonamide is a chemical compound that was initially introduced to improve the texture and elasticity of bread.[1] Sounds harmless enough, right? However, what is alarming is that this very chemical is also used in the manufacture of non-edible items like yoga mats and shoe soles. Azodicarbonamide acts as a blowing agent, helping these products achieve a sponge-like texture. The question then arises: Do we really want an ingredient that's used in yoga mats to also be a part of something we eat?

In the food industry, azodicarbonamide serves to bleach the flour, making it appear more refined, and to improve the dough's handling properties. However, the use of this synthetic additive is far from universally accepted, sparking significant debates among health experts, consumers, and lawmakers.

Azodicarbonamide is Banned in Europe and Australia

If azodicarbonamide is as harmless as some claim, why has it been banned in Europe and Australia? The answer lies in the exhaustive research and guidelines that have raised red flags about its safety. European Union and Australian authorities have deemed the chemical to be potentially harmful and thus have prohibited its use in food products.[2] This decision wasn't made lightly; it was based on a range of studies that pointed to the adverse health effects associated with azodicarbonamide.

The ban sends a powerful message about how safety standards can vary from one region to another. It raises concerns about why some countries have yet to take action, allowing this chemical to be freely used in food production. What is clear is that the ban in Europe and Australia sets a precedent, calling into question the chemical’s place in our food system altogether.

Health Risks Associated with Azodicarbonamide

Respiratory Issues

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of azodicarbonamide is its link to respiratory issues. Studies have shown that workers exposed to the chemical in industrial settings have experienced respiratory problems, including asthma.[3] If occupational exposure can lead to such outcomes, what does that imply for consumers ingesting small amounts of the chemical through their daily bread?

Other Dangers and Concerns

Beyond respiratory issues, azodicarbonamide poses other health risks as well. Some studies suggest that the chemical may have carcinogenic effects, resulting in tumors over time.[4] Additionally, there have been cases of allergic reactions to foods containing azodicarbonamide. While these instances are rare, the possibility itself is concerning.

Furthermore, there is an ethical concern regarding the non-disclosure or unclear labeling of azodicarbonamide in food products. Consumers have the right to know what they are ingesting, especially when it comes to a substance that has been banned in other parts of the world due to health concerns.

The mounting evidence against azodicarbonamide begs the question: Is the slight improvement in bread texture and shelf life worth the potential health risks?

Extreme Measures: Singapore's Strict Regulations

If you're still not convinced about the potential hazards of azodicarbonamide, consider the stern measures taken by Singapore. In this Southeast Asian country, using azodicarbonamide in food products is not just frowned upon; it's a criminal offense. The penalties for using this chemical in food are severe—fines can go up to $450,000, and violators can be jailed for up to 15 years.[2]

Such extreme measures reflect a stringent commitment to public health. It's a stark contrast to the leniency shown by other countries where azodicarbonamide is still permitted in food. 

Singapore's strict regulations should serve as a wake-up call to both consumers and policymakers, highlighting the urgent need to reassess the chemical's safety and its place in our food supply.

Alternatives to Azodicarbonamide

Given the health concerns and stringent regulations surrounding azodicarbonamide, it's comforting to know that there are safer alternatives for bread production. For instance, more natural preservatives like ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can be used to extend shelf life. Sourdough fermentation is another option that not only improves the texture of the bread but may also enhance its nutritional profile.

Some companies are also exploring other additives that achieve similar results to azodicarbonamide but are considered safer. Brands committed to natural and organic ingredients are producing bread without synthetic chemicals, offering consumers a healthier choice.

The existence of these alternatives raises yet another question: If there are safer options available, why is azodicarbonamide still found in many bread products? The answer may lie in the economic benefits for manufacturers, but at what cost to consumer health?

Consumer Awareness and Responsibility

The power ultimately lies in the hands of consumers. If we make the conscious choice to avoid products containing azodicarbonamide, manufacturers will be forced to adapt and opt for safer ingredients. Here are some steps you can take to make more informed choices:

  • Read Labels: Always read the ingredient list on packaged foods. Manufacturers are required to list all ingredients, although they may use complex names that aren't easily recognizable.
  • Buy Organic: Organic bread is less likely to contain synthetic chemicals like azodicarbonamide. Look for certification labels to ensure the product meets organic standards.
  • Support Local Bakeries: Small, local bakeries often use traditional methods of bread-making that do not include synthetic additives.
  • Educate Others: Share your knowledge about the risks of azodicarbonamide with friends and family. The more people know, the more they can make informed choices.
  • Advocate: Join consumer advocacy groups or campaigns that aim to eliminate harmful substances from our food. Collective consumer voice can influence policy changes.

By taking these steps, not only do you protect yourself, but you also contribute to a larger movement for safer, healthier food options.

The Naughty List[5]

  • The English muffins at McDonald's
  • Subway Breads
  • Wendy’s Morning Melt Panini Bread
  • Arby’s (almost all of their different breads)
  • Starbucks croissants
  • Cole’s cheese sticks
  • Country Hearth Bread
  • Earthgrains bread
  • Fibre One Hotdog and Hamburger buns
  • Harvest Pride Bread
  • Healthy Life Bread
  • Hearth Of Texas Bread Company
  • Little Debbie products
  • Mariano's products
  • Pillsbury products
  • Sarah Lee products
  • And many, many more.


Azodicarbonamide may have been introduced to the food industry as a seemingly harmless additive to improve bread's texture and shelf life, but the risks associated with this chemical are too concerning to ignore. Whether it's respiratory issues, potential carcinogenic effects, or ethical questions about non-disclosure of ingredients, there are ample reasons to be wary of azodicarbonamide in our food. The fact that it is banned in regions like Europe and Australia and criminalized in Singapore speaks volumes about its safety or lack thereof.

As consumers, we have the power to influence the market. By opting for products that do not contain azodicarbonamide and raising awareness about its risks, we can protect not only our health but also the well-being of our communities. It's time to ask ourselves: Is the marginal benefit of a slightly fluffier loaf of bread worth the significant risks posed by this chemical?

The responsibility lies with each one of us to make informed choices and advocate for a healthier, safer food environment. Because when it comes to our health, every ingredient counts.

  1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Azodicarbonamide Frequently Asked Questions.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA,
  2. “Azodicarbonamide, Evipor, Azodicarbonamide, 1,1’-Azobis Formamide, 1,1’-Azobisformamide, ADCA, Azo-Di-Karbonamid - CAS: 123-77-3.” , Evipor, Azodicarbonamide, 1,1’-Azobis Formamide, 1,1’-Azobisformamide, ADCA, Azo-Di-Karbonamid - CAS: 123-77-3, 
  3. Whitehead, L W et al. “Respiratory symptoms associated with the use of azodicarbonamide foaming agent in a plastics injection molding facility.” American journal of industrial medicine vol. 11,1 (1987): 83-92. doi:10.1002/ajim.4700110109
  4. Ye, Jing et al. “Assessment of the determination of azodicarbonamide and its decomposition product semicarbazide: investigation of variation in flour and flour products.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry vol. 59,17 (2011): 9313-8. doi:10.1021/jf201819x
  5. “Nearly 500 Ways to Make a Yoga Mat Sandwich.” Environmental Working Group,