Is Azodicarbonamide Banned in the UK?


Also known as E927a, the chemical azodicarbonamide (ADA) is a food additive used to bleach flour and enhance the elasticity of dough used for baking bread.

Putting chemicals in food to improve texture or alter the food’s colour sounds like it could be dangerous. Therefore, many of us want to know whether azodicarbonamide is genuinely safe for consumption.

So, is ADA banned in the UK? What does this chemical do to your body? What foods contain azodicarbonamide? And is azodicarbonamide legal anywhere in the world? Let’s learn more about this food additive and why you should cut it from your diet.


Is Azodicarbonamide Banned in the UK?

If you think using this chemical in food sounds dangerous, you’d be right! Due to safety concerns, azodicarbonamide is banned in the United Kingdom and is not on their list of approved additives and E numbers.

It has been banned since 1990, and no food products made or sold in the UK are legally allowed to contain this additive.

The safety concerns surrounding this chemical are so severe that almost every country worldwide has banned the use of E927a in food.

It has been prohibited in the European Union for over ten years. India also banned azodicarbonamide in 2016, joining countries such as China and Brazil in putting ADA on the banned food additives list.


Why Is Azodicarbonamide Banned in Europe?

For food additives to be legal in the UK and EU, research is conducted to assess their safety.

Any products that pose a risk to human health are banned, or, in some cases, their usage and quantities are restricted. Comparatively, those considered ‘safe’ can legally be used in food.

Azodicarbonamide has been banned in Europe due to its carcinogenic properties. Carcinogenic substances are any substances or agents that could cause cancer. The UK Food Standards Agency are quick to ban any potentially cancer-causing substances from food – if an item is truly carcinogenic, then no amount is considered ‘safe’.

This dangerous food additive also holds a purpose in other industries. It is known as the “yoga mat chemical” as it is used when creating foamed plastic.

However, workers exposed to this chemical have been found to have an increased risk of asthma and other respiratory conditions. These findings further prove azodicarbonamide is dangerous and unsafe for consumption.


What Does Azodicarbonamide Do to Your Body?

The exact effects of azodicarbonamide on the body are not known. Trials have only been performed on animals and in vitro studies; due to the potential carcinogenic nature of the chemical, in vivo human trials are unethical.

However, azodicarbonamide was a mutagen in bacterial systems. Nevertheless, there is no firm evidence this would happen in living organisms.

What is certain is the respiratory effects on humans. There is abundant evidence that inhalation of the chemical induces asthma. However, no research suggests consuming ADA could have the same respiratory effects. In terms of food, cancer appears to be the more significant risk factor.


Is Azodicarbonamide Still Used?

You won’t find azodicarbonamide in UK products, so you don’t need to worry about cutting this chemical from your diet. However, azodicarbonamide is still used in the United States.

If you’re travelling to the USA, beware that E927a is used in most bagels, baguettes, hotdogs, white bread, croissants, and many other baked goods.

I know what you’re thinking – how is azodicarbonamide legal in the US despite the apparent risks to human health? The legalities of food additives are down to the discretion of the regulators for that country. While the UK deems ADA unsafe, the FDA claim the chemical is safe in small amounts.

Nevertheless, the United States has received harsh criticism from people worldwide for still allowing azodicarbonamide to be used as a food additive. Many food brands have removed ADA from their products as a response, such as the fast-food brand Subway.

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