What’s Azodicarbonamide? What’s it doing in your bread? (and how to pronounce it)

AZO – DI – CAR – BO – NA – MIDE – say it 5 times quickly and then proceed…

In the old days, bread would go stale within a day or two of baking, and start to grow mold in 3 to 4. But today, you can buy a bread that will stay soft and fresh for two weeks and even more. Try baking bread at home and see how long it lasts…

Part of the miracle of stay soft forever bread is an additive called azodicarbonamide, which plays 2 important roles in mass manufacturing of bread:

  1. bleaching agent – it makes the bread whiter by reacting with cartonene in the flour.
  2. improves flour strength -  this improves the dough’s ability to retain gas and makes the bread more elastic.

Azodicarbonamide (E927) is an orange, odorless, powder.  It has non-food applications such as a foaming agent in plastics, in photography and electronics.

Is it safe?

Depends who you ask.

Europe and Australia ban the use of azodicarbonamide because it is a “respiratory sensitizer” that can cause asthmatic and other allergic reaction. In Singapore, the use of azodicarbonamide in food products can lead to a lengthy jail sentence.

And in In the US? Azodicarbonamide is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. Despite being “safe” it can be added to flour only in tiny amounts – 45 parts per million!

What to do at the supermarket:

Although reading the ingredient list for bread seems more daunting than reading the Bible in Latin, you should seek short ingredient lists that begin with 100% whole wheat, that don’t contain azodicarbonamide and these four other ingredients.

Sources:

  1. Kim C, Cho J, Leem J, Ryu J, Lee H, Hong Y. Occupational asthma due to azodicarbonamide. Yonsei Med J. 2004; 45-2: 325-329.
  2. Normand JC, Grange F, Hernandez C, Ganay A, Davezies P, Bergeret A, Prost G. Occupational asthma after exposure to azodicarbonamide: Report of four cases. Brit J Ind Med. 1989; 46: 60-62.
  3. Vlastos D, Moshou H, Epeoglou K. Evaluation of genotoxic effects of semicarbazide on cultured human lymphocytes and rat bone marrow. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010; 48: 209-214.
  4. Ye J, Wang X, Sang Y, Liu Q. Assessment of the determination of azodicarbonamide and its decomposition product semicarbazide: Investigation of variation in flour and flour products. J Agr Food Chem. 2011; 59: 9313-9318.

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  • Baker

    Sounds like the risk with azodicarbonomide is in inhaling it. Why is it a concern after it has been processed into flour and then baked into a final product?

    • http://twitter.com/spinnybobo Spencer Davis

      I understand the scientific thought you are looking through, but another thought can be: there is a risk inhaling lots of things used to build houses also — but I would not want to eat any of them.

      • Darkside_Hero

        I’m sure you eat lots of things that would be deadly to inhale.

    • hollycoz

      Go look it up yourself you ignorant moron

      • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

        Well thought out answer guest. BTW Einstein, ignorant and moron mean about the same thing. Sort of like dumb ass and you.

    • Rhonda

      After working in a steak house and having to not breath while putting MSG into everything on salad bar…..or risk passing out….sure…if it harms you ‘breathing’ it do you really suggest ‘eating’ it? Salad bars is what elderly or very ill are told to stay away from. MSG; remember that??? It causes cancer too.
      Ever wonder why cancer rates are growing exponentially? THINK!
      And if you can make a good loaf of bread WITHOUT poisons….WHY are they using the poisons?? Good question. Want to bet these FDA folks are NOT eating this bread????

    • Citizen for justice

      Baker – it would be interesting to know when azodicarbonamide started being used regularly in processed bread products, and when all of the gluten intolerance with so many people started rearing its’ ugly head. This may be something worth looking in to. Afterall, it would stand to reason that if you tolerated gluten products and were able to digest them just fine years ago, and are now sensitive to them, yet test negative for gluten allergies and intolerance, that the rubber in the processed bread may be the culprit, not the gluten. It makes sense to me that ones digestive system may not be able to process and break down this additive.
      It would be interesting to see if someone who has gone gluten free were to bake and eat their own homemade bread, tortillas, etc, and they had no problems, that this would certainly be worth looking in to. We know the risks of inhaling it. Have there ever been studies on the risks of ingesting it?
      Just something to ponder.

      • Mom Who Thinks

        In the last five years, they have also begun to add soy flour and other ingredients to breads that weren’t there before. It could be any number of additives — or all of them.

        Many people can tolerate homemade bread, or even true sourdough (homemade or commercial, as long as it contains flour, water, salt, and possibly honey — nothing else).

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  • Nikki Ty-Tomkins

    Not sure if its the azodicarbonamide or DATEM … but something in Hearth & Harvest Whole Wheat bread is making me very sick. I noticed this gradually about three months ago. Increasingly severe cramps and diarrhea after eating a sandwich. Then stopped buying it and switched to another brand. No problem. But today decided to go back to H & H … because its tastier and nice bread slice size. This time the effects were worse than ever. Severe diarrhea and terrible cramps. Tossed it and won’t go near it again.
    These two ingredients seem to be the only ones which aren’t listed in the store brand bread I’ve been eating without problems.

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  • JWB

    “Natures Own”bread, listed on Fooducate does not list this ingredient in its list and the Natures Own bread I am looking at right now has this ingredient in it.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      We’ll take a look and fix.

    • Rhonda

      Just tossed a loaf of Heiners bread also. Going back to making my own.

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  • giggidy

    Chlorine is fine when you’re swimming in it, breath it in and you’re dead, this “article” is grossly out of context.

    • nig

      theres a difference between pool chlorine and chlorine gas, ya oogle

      • gLuke

        Explain to us that difference.

        Or explain to us why there is a difference between pool chlorine and chlorine gas, but NOT a difference between food-grade azodicarbonamide and the azodicarbonamide used to make electronics.

      • James

        You are incorrect about Chlorine. Both gas chlorine and pool Chlorine (Calcium hypochloride) can be deadly in certain doses.

  • Tecpedz94

    The people commenting are so ridiculously ignorant and cannot admit that the food they love is poisoning them cuz they cannot commit to change. Its simple, bread has very few ingredients wheat flour, water, yeast…. all this other bull is not considered food and shoudl not be in our food. I cannot even believe you people are debating who safe it is cuz its in there. How badly brainwashed can you be!! -_- This is why i make my own food grow it and buy organic or read labels. I know what my ingredients mean and when i spot a product that contains GMO’s even hidden sources, if it has synthetic ingredients or ones i dont like i put it back.

    • lawrence

      it’s great you are aware of this information, but please plead to others/ strangers, about these dangers, and tell them about this

      • Tecpedz94

        Haha thanks i will try same to you :p

    • justanaverageguy

      You have a decent arguement, but because of the grammar, spelling, and use of idioms, your credibility is completely diffused.

      • Tecpedz94

        Sorry next time i will proof read my comments prior to posting in order to accommodate people such as yourself. I forgot that spelling, grammar ect.. plays such an important role when you are trying to educate the masses and prove a point.
        Yes alright i will admit that it wasn’t structured quite well but i am not writing an article here to teach people English its the internet, as long as its clear and the reader is able to understand the whole point, which i get the impression that you did than my objective was complete. Clearly when i have to write for something that is truly important like and exam or article ect… spelling, grammar punctuation and proof reading to make sure my sentences and paragraphs are coherent will be the first thing to check but in this case not so important. Overall my message was clear and thats all that matters :p

      • Alorah

        Maybe you should also check your spelling justanaverageguy, it’s argument not arguement.

    • Rhonda

      Just checked Heiners bread bought yesterday. Yep; they use it too. Have already had cancer and am now cancer free since summer. Not taking chances with MY health. I’m going back to purchasing non bleached king arthur flour and baking my own bread. We did notice that Heiners bread did NOT taste as good as it use to. So don’t tell me it doesn’t change the bread. Before we found this out…my entire family said it didn’t taste the same. And the texture was different also.
      WHY take chances with your health? WHY do you need to add this poison? There is NO legitimate reason for it. So why does FDA keep allowing poisons in OUR food? Want to bet these people at FDA aren’t eating what we’re eating??????????????

  • Bryan

    So, what is a good bread without this ingredient?

  • I am not afraid

    Dam I would be more affaid of the Ammonium Sulfate listed in breads.

  • JessRainbows

    I don’t understand what is up with America. I’m from America but I’ve been living in Japan since I was 23, straight from college, and their cheapest breads don’t have any of the crap that I hear about. They are sold in small loafs (1/2 or 1/3 the typical loaf size in the US) and their expiration dates are usually 3-4 days from the date they’re put freshly on the shelf. If you want it to last longer, refrigerate it. Their ingredient lists for bread are always very short and the worst thing on it is yeast food or trace amounts of soy for added flavor. That’s it.

    • lawrence

      americans, for how retarded ‘we” are, still have a neo-cortex intuitive grasp of the second amendment and wanting to keep our guns. but the illuminati/globalists are poisoning america through the food, the air, the water, you name it.

      we are under assault on all fronts, being “slow killed”

      if you dumb the population down it makes them more manageable

      so that’s why they are poisoning us left and right.

      • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

        I agree that we have a paleo-cortex grasp of the second amendment, too many people including the Supreme Court act as if the part, “… in a well regulated militia,” doesn’t exist. However, to suggest that illuminati/globalists are poisoning America supposes that they have more power than they actually have, if they even exist at all. Corporations do a good enough job of poisoning Americans, why would we need a secret organization to do that. Finally, your comparison using the second amendment and harmful food additives seems like kind of a stretch.

        I do agree that a certain political party in America is trying to dumb Americans down in an effort to control our nation and the world. They are against the scientific method, take money away from schools, tie religion to government programs, and their candidates make outrageous claims not supported by any evidence. It seems their hope is to create a worldwide theocracy where they are in charge and make decisions for others.

        • hollycoz

          Lawrence is right about everything he said, just research a little bit and you’ll see truth. Our country is very corrupt, chem trails pollute the sky, haarp controls storms, the fda pollutes us with chemically enhanced foods and pointless drugs. Power, wealth, and lust will always control empty hearts, but in the end, it’s God who is the true commander and chief unlike that muslim placed in office to make the worst decisions that’ll break this country.

          • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

            Lawrence may be right about everything, but in the post I replied to he did not mention chemtrails,haarp, or Obama. But I did do a little research on the topics you mentioned, even though I already knew the answers. Sorry, but one of the dumbest conspiracy theories is chemtrails. Numerous sites debunk this myth. In fact they are contrails, they are condensation, a completely normal byproduct of flight. It doesn’t even make sense that the government would involve commercial airlines to deliver any kind of unknown threat. They certainly have their own capability to do this and I’m sure they could make it colorless and odorless. Only an idiot believes in chemtrails.

            HAARP is another conspiracy theory that is almost laughable. Here’s a tidbit from the Washington Post, “HAARP does not and cannot control the weather. While the frequencies are high powered, it doesn’t have nearly enough energy to do anything over the Lower 48, let alone specifically target communities for destruction like one would see in a science fiction movie. Both common sense and a basic understanding of meteorology debunk the conspiracy theory surrounding HAARP’s alleged ability to control the weather.”

            Finally, I looked at eleven reputable articles about Obama’s religion and all of them stated he was a Christian. The only one’s that suggested otherwise were by right wing nut jobs who would hate Obama for just being born. Remember the right was all over him for comments his Christian minister Jeremiah Wright made. How can Obama be a Muslim and still be blamed for something a Christian minister said?

            Seriously, for my own research I’d like to know how you became so stupid. Do you even know what the word research means?

          • Jim B

            Just because someone says they are christian and go to a “church” that espouses HATE and bigotry for over 20 years, does NOT make them a true follower of Christ!!!

            He was raised a Muslim, period. What he claims now is irrelevant. How he was raised and who he was mentored by are far, far more important then what religion he CLAIMS to be!!!

          • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

            Ok, because someone espouses hate and bigotry that doesn’t make them a Christian. I’m not sure why you mentioned that, but I would agree with it.

            No he was not raised a Muslim, exclamation point. You are just plain wrong. There is absolutely no evidence that he was raised a Muslim. BTW, Kenya is considered a secular state. Since when did someone who “claims” to be a Christian not be accepted as one. If a Christian missionary converts someone to Christianity, do they then have to pass some sort of litmus test to show they really mean it? I guess Obama failed the litmus test because he is black, President of the United States, and has policies you disagree with. He attends a Christian church, is raising his children as Christian, and is married to a Christian woman. WTF else does he have to do to prove he is a Christian? Show you his Christian I.D. card?

            What freakin’ jerk you are. If he is a Muslim I suspect you would have a problem, but if he professes to be a Christian you don’t believe him. Nice way to be fair and balanced.

          • Leigh306

            I am still laughing. You can’t use logic and knowledge with these “right’ people. It took me a full minute to figure out where the Muslim/Christian conversation was coming from. I can’t believe that is still going on, but, hey, people who hate Obama have to have something to hate. I actually had thought that this was a country of religious freedom, not just a country to be a Christian free to be whatever denomination you choose to be. I guess some Christians forgot that there are other religions in the world. There is no fair and balanced when talking, if you call it talking, to some of these right-leaning wingers. And yes, I did just resort to name-calling.

        • Jim B

          I am assuming by “against the scientific method” you mean the “Peer review” process and consensus building versus actual OBSERVATION and EXPERIMENTATION???

          And where has spending more money equate to better schools?? When Ohio tried a statewide “Equal spending” bill in the late 90′s early 2000′s guess what?? Inner city school districts were going to have to GIVE money to the wealthiest!!! MORE money is far, far, far from the correct path to improving our schools!!!!

          Tying religion to government programs??? Not sure WTH your babbling on abut here but will go on a ledge and assume that you mean giving FED money to religious charities that do evil things like FEED THE POOR???? Oh that is right ONLY the govt can help the poor?!?!?!

          outrageous claims like the DEM rep who was worried an island would tip the F over if we allow dependents to live on base?!?!?!?! that outrageous claim???

          YOU my friend need to open YOUR eyes and ears and LEARN something other than Left leaning talking points!!!

          • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

            “I am assuming by “against the scientific method” you mean the “Peer review” process.” Why would I mean the peer review process when I wrote the scientific method. They both are a part of research, but are two totally separate things. It’s clear you don’t know the difference so let me help you. The scientific method:

            Ask a Question
            Do Background Research
            Construct a Hypothesis
            Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
            Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
            Communicate Your Results

            Peer review journals are where you share your results. This allows others to repeat the experiment to see if they get the same results or to criticise the experimental design and thus the results. Some of the items a researcher should include in his article are the purpose, the hypothesis, the experimental design (so it can be repeated), problems with the study, conclusions, and implications for further study.

            Tying religion to government was a Bush era idea. He changed the law so religious organizations could compete for federal grants. He also gave religious organizations the right not to hire a qualified person if they did not meet certain religious requirements. Most of this has thankfully been undone by the Obama administration. It was actually a rather big change in the law that received much media attention. I’m sorry you have never heard of it.

          • lawrence

            peer reviews are a means to repeat lies over and over again in hopes that people will eventually believe them.
            like Fluoride in the water, was mentioned decades after decades in peer review journals that it was good for you.
            but finally the Harvard school of medicine has to admit it’s toxic

          • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

            Absolutely wrong. Certainly there has been new evidence that fluoride may not be safe in the water supply. I would suggest further study, but if a municipality wanted to remove fluoride from their drinking water I’d say go for it. I would be leery too. But to take one instance and use it to paint the whole process of peer review as lies is incredibly short sighted. You’ve heard the expression, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. From cell phones, to heart medications that keep patients alive, to alleviating polio in our lifetime, most scientific and medical advances have come from the peer review process. Your one example is like saying Larry Craig is a Republican who searches for gay sex in restrooms, therefore all Republicans search for gay sex in restrooms. Your point about fluoride was well taken, but then you went too far.

          • Rhonda

            LOL. Left talking points. It’s very clear. Fluoride in water safe? Ha! Funny.

          • http://madrigalmaniac.com/ Jeff Parsons

            Rhonda, how could you misconstrue a comment so badly. I even suggested in my comment that fluoride may not be safe and wouldn’t blame others for wanting out of their water.

            The crux of my post was to say the peer review process shouldn’t be forsaken because of one mistake. It’s been a valuable research tool that has worked great for years.

            Did you actually read what I wrote? Or were you too busy thinking up those witty things that right wingers say when they have nothing to say? Like “left talking points.” Well Einstein, aren’t right wing opinions just “conservative talking points?”

            BTW, I’ve heard very few liberals give an opinion on fluoride in water and most that do are against it. So, I don’t think it’s really one of our “talking points.”

          • Leigh306

            I am laughing because you are making relevant and cogent points to people who obviously don’t want to use them to understand or don’t know what cogent and relevant are. Especially, this next quote, “Left talking points…Fluoride in water safe safe?” I love the gay sex in restrooms example. I doubt they understand the analogy as their logic is bent just enough to find it irrelevant in some way and can hear Rush Limbaugh in their heads yelling about how you are now trying to obfuscate the issue.

        • Rhonda

          Left is one always talking about population control, letting grandparents just die. Geez; not surprised here!

    • lawrence

      america and switzerland are the only 2 countries left that have the right to bear arms enshrined in their constitution.

      they are always trying to take away the guns in america with all the staged mass shootings and americans still haven’t completely given in

    • lawrence

      if you live in japan haven’t you noticed the japanese government and tepco telling you not to worry about the fukushima radiation that is eviscerating your organs as we speak ?

      • Evolution is a Hoax

        A free tan. How is that fair.

  • veggiedude

    There’s a petition going around to get Subway to eliminate this…
    http://foodbabe.com/subway/

  • Girl_stuff

    The bread I bake from home lasts as long as chemically enhanced breads with proper storage. Sourdoughs and ale or champagne based breads last even longer. Fresh pizza doughs last a long time dormant in my refrigerator. Thanks bread machine! If you’re worried about it, preslice it and store it protected in the freezer for more gradual use, or bake smaller loaves. Stale ends make incredible stuffing, French toast, bread crumbs and croutons. Puhlease!

  • Vm

    sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda is also used in manufactutring of
    leather and plastics. Sodium chloride aka table salt is also used in
    rubber manufacturing. Ethanol aka the stuff in wine and beer is used as
    rocket fuel

    If you want to ban azodicarbonamide do it for the
    right reason: because peer reviewed studies have shown toxicity. Don’t
    do it because its used in an icky manner outside of the food industry.

    for the record i dont care whether or not azodicarbonamide is toxic or
    not. I do care about the process to determine whether its toxic or not.

    • jodeo

      And I suppose you’re going to try and tell us next that Dihydrogen Monoxide is also safe? http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html#DANGERS

      • cindy@rbogner.com

        Vm made an excellent point. Don’t throw in a straw man argument to avoid a rational conversation. People are out here doing the best they can trying to eat healthy and avoid bad things. Not everyone is capable of baking their own bread on a regular basis. Bread baking is one of the most time consuming processes in the kitchen – not particularly difficult, but definitely a lengthy process. How about we just demand that the FDA make sure our food is safe. That is their job after all.

        • Mom Who Thinks

          Dihydrogen monoxide is also known as….water.

          Jodeo is being sarcastic.

      • yumman

        Hydric acid (dihydrogen monoxide) is yummy and must be good for us since science has found ways to help our food by adding it to our crops, and livestock, right? I mean it has to be healthy or the FDA certainly wouldn’t allow it to be added to baby food, right? Oh wait, it’s also in jet fuel, bombs, bug spray, poison, nuclear power and many other light hearted things like this. It confuses cell development and when cells split and become radical (cancer) they continue to require more and more of it to split more cells until its host (humans) is dead. Just like a drug addict on crack.
        if you’ve ever read a toxicollogy report on the kids that go nuts in schools and shoot up their schools, you’d have noticed they had high concentrates of hydric acids in their bodies. I guess that’s why it’s used in racing fuel, but at least there it’s not used at its full strength since it’s too powerful.
        Hey, but at least my food will last a few extra days, be a little softer, etc…

  • ClaraThomas

    This is only one chemical of the thousands in the food supply.

    A long way to go yet.

    Do not alcohol, aluminum, aspartame, caffeine, canola, chlorine, fluoride, cow’s milk, malathion, mercury, nitrites, Nutrasweet, Neotame, tobacco, sucralose, sugar and vaccinations constitute biological and chemical warfare against us.

    • Evolution is a Hoax

      And that doesn’t include the chemicals that the body produces, and the thousands of bacteria the body uses as well. And water, in large quantities can kill us too. we are getting it from all sides.

    • a

      sorry but i refused to believe that mercury is bad for you, it never gets any closer than like 48 million miles

      • jodeo

        And this will long be remembered as the day Clara Thomas won the Internet!!!

      • Rhonda

        Mercury not bad? Try breaking the left’s mandated lightbulbs. Govt even says you must call EPA; they send hazemat. Real safe eh??

  • Leanne

    Bread need not be made from wheat flour. It is possible to make flour from plastics (as long as they are not of the harmful variety). Naturally, plastic is not as nutritious as bleached and processed wheat flour, but it can be made so with the addition of suitable nutrient chemicals.

    I really don’t see what the problem is with using synthetic food stuffs, they are cheaper to make (can be made from coal and petroleum) and they can be made in any flavour and colour.

  • Citizen for justice

    With all of the talk of gluten allergies and sensitivity, I can’t help but wonder if my friends who seem to be sensitive to gluten, yet have been tested for gluten sensitivity with negative results are actually sensitive to the azodicarbonamide put in commercial bread products and not the gluten, itself. Just something to ponder.

  • Shawn Richard Monaghan

    In the old days people made sourdough which does not go stale or mouldy for at least 1 to 2 weeks. The problem is that it takes time to make sourdough. And no, making sourdough does NOT involve adding vinegar to the dough,