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The One Thing Subway Is Still Hiding From All Of Us!

Witnessing the power of the Food Babe Army this week has been absolutely incredible. 

On Tuesday, February 4th, I launched a petition for the removal of a dangerous plastic chemical called azodicarbonamide from Subway sandwich bread – the same stuff used in yoga mats, shoe rubber and synthetic leather. This was after repeated attempts to reach out to Subway since June of 2012 to learn more about why they are using this (asthma inducing and potentially carcinogenic) chemical here in North America and not in any other countries. They never responded until now. 

Within 24 hours, the petition received over 50,000 signatures, and Subway’s social media channels were completely overrun by concerned citizens and the Food Babe Army. I want to thank the countless number of friends, family members, fellow bloggers, organizations, and everyday citizens who took swift action to tell Subway we deserve the same safer ingredients they use overseas.  

To date, the petition has received over 78,000 signatures and counting. 


Late Wednesday afternoon in an email to me from Michelle Dinello, Director of Corporate Communications, Subway announced they would be removing this ingredient from their sandwiches “soon”. In this email, she apologized for not responding sooner and specifically to my inquiry on January 25th that went unanswered. They said “that we are already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide from our bread as part of our ongoing bread improvement program” and additionally told reporters that their change had nothing to do with the petition. We know this is just a corporate spin and how big companies operate. They don’t want us to know how much power we have over their decisions. We’ve seen this kind of deceptive marketing move before when Gatorade took out a flame retardant chemical and said it had nothing to do with a petition with over 200k signatures. And again, most recently in Kraft, when they started removing artificial food dyes from their Mac & Cheese and said it had nothing to do with our 350k signatures petition. Since Subway has been exploiting us with unsafe ingredients that are prohibited in other countries for all these years, wouldn’t it be nice if they’d just be straight with us?

As soon as I received this email, I wrote back and asked for a timeline and asked if they would provide the new ingredient list.

There’s been dead silence on their end. Every single reporter I talked with yesterday and today (over 30) has tried to get the same answer from Subway headquarters and they aren’t responding. I went live on CNN yesterday afternoon talking about this. I’ve heard nothing. I sent another followup email this morning. 

We cannot call this a victory until we know the facts. Please keep spreading the word, and ask Subway to give a timeline.

We know nothing about their changes. Are they going to be using the same ingredients they do overseas? This would mean they would also have to eliminate caramel coloring, yeast extract, and GMOs from their bread – which would be fantastic! What do they plan to do? No one knows. 

Subway1 Subway 4

Keep the pressure on. They hope we’ll celebrate and just go away. The Food Babe Army is too strong and committed for that. 

Every time you see a Subway commercial, advertisement or walk or drive past a store – take the time to ask yourself, how long will it take for Subway to stop serving plastic to their customers? 

The worldwide news coverage of this event has been miraculous – from China to India to Canada to Sweden to Mexico. I spent the last 2 days talking to as many reporters as possible so we could get our voices heard. I cry tears of joy realizing that so many more people will now have their eyes opened to what is really happening in the food supply and that eating at Subway is not “Fresh”.  As of now, there are over 450 news stories about the petition according to Google News, here are a few:

ABC News – Subway takes chemical out of bread after protest

USA Today – Subway to remove chemical from bread

NY Daily News – Subway will remove additive found in plastics from its bread after blogger’s online petition

CNN – Meet the ‘food babe’ who helped convince Subway to remove chemical from bread

Canada CBC News –  Subway agrees to end use of controversial chemical after food blogger Vani Hari’s protest

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – (HILARIOUS) Subway Yoga Mat Controversy

What’s Next?

Please take action. Keep sharing the petition, keep going to Subway’s facebook page, keep calling them and tweeting them. 

Help us put pressure on Subway to provide a timeline by:
  1. Sharing the petition via email with at least 3 friends
  2. Sharing your support on Facebook, Twitter, and Google
  3. Contacting Subway directly and asking them when they are going to remove azodicarbonamide from their bread

78,000 voices and counting deserve answers. 

There’s no stopping us now! 

Vani Hari

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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332 responses to “The One Thing Subway Is Still Hiding From All Of Us!

  1. Thank you Food babe! What you do deserves much more than to read few lines of gratitude. We all appreciate your work.

  2. Great work! Its a good step. You do realize that ‘yeast extract’ and ‘natural flavor’ are the G in MSG? note they are also ‘missing’ in Europe due to their requirement to list honestly free glutamic acid (one of our 24 amino acids) and not hide behind this facade. thanks again for your work!

    1. I agree with you Bryan. There are so many other things as well that hide under different names that we shouldn’t ingest.

      1. I just realized that Potbelly Sandwich Shop also has azodicarbonamide in its bread. Just as bad as Subway. Why is all the focus on Subway?

  3. Great job! I can’t for the life of me understand how this country got into the routine addition of all these unnecessary chemicals in our food supply! And, Heinz needs to remove HCFS from ALL ketchup, not just certain versions. Imagine, if Heinz removed HCFS, then all fast food companies in this country would be using HCFS-free ketchup, but the fast food companies aren’t going to do this because they don’t care. We have to keep this army going until all this junk is out of the food system, even if the food isn’t necessarily healthy (fast food), at least it is being made out of real ingredients, not petroleum, plastics, GMOs etc. Thank you Food Babe!

    1. What makes you think that Heinz is the only person that supplies ketchup to fast food restaurants? They only supply McDonald’s in 2 or 3 large metropolitan regions, and it’s similar for Burger King. They’re a big producer of the product, yes, but they’re not the largest supplier to FoodService retailers. It’s statements like these that are prime examples of over-reaching and uninformed citizens.

      Question – do you look at the corn syrup in the grocery store that says ‘no High Fructose Corn Syrup’, and think to yourself “Wow, this is a better product for me?” It’s the same product nutritionally, and that’s what really matters.

      1. We NEED to get ADA out of Potbelly Sandwich Shop bread. I was able to get a box top for the bread at a Potbelly in Manhattan. ADA is on the ingredients list as well as a host of other fine chemicals.

  4. AWESOME! PLEASE keep up the good work, and we’ll keep spreading the word on the efforts you start! SO grateful you are out there doing this. Maybe someday as a result the U.S. will be MORE restrictive than (or at least equal to) other countries on the issue of allowable food ingredients rather than so, so much less.

  5. I love it. I signed the petition and days later we at least get a response. My husband read the headline and I yell, “I was part of that!” Ha ha. This is what capitalism is all about. Supply what’s asked for, and we are asking for change.
    Real food, natural beauty!

  6. Let’s take them all down! If we stand together, they will have to listen. All fast food products should be analyzed and exposed….. THANK YOU VANI!

    1. Bonnie,
      You shouldn’t let the GMO wheat bother you. There is no such thing as GMO wheat as defined by your friends here. Wheat is not roundup ready nor insect resistant. Monsanto and the other GM companies never touched the wheat in this country. Google it. This movement bothers people unnecessarily. Pretty sickening.

  7. I saw it on NPR @ 6 this morning-made my day. The people have the power-oh, I mean thanks to you we do. Keep ’em coming.

  8. You are exploiting chemofobia, and are spreading lies. Next you’ll be going after Dasani for having hydrogen, the dangerous chemical that’s also used in bombs.

    1. Your ignorance is inexcusable. Since you are commenting on this site, surely you must read about the dangers in processed food so prevalent in the U.S. If not, you are way out of line and need to get busy and learn. Right now, you have never been so wrong. There is proof of what I am saying if you read creditable reports and studies instead of the media junk reporting. Everything is dangerous when put in the hands of people like you. Please don’t be one of them any longer.

      1. It is your ignorance that is appalling. Neither Food Babe nor anyone I’ve seen has provided proof that azodicarbonamide is dangerous. The reasoning that since it’s also used in yoga mats and shoe rubber then it must not be edible is beyond ridiculous and is as ridiculous as saying that you shouldn’t drink water because it contains a chemical also used in batteries, bombs, and motor coolants – hydrogen.

        What you have is chemofobia – an irrational fear of chemicals. Look it up.

        There are chemicals that shouldn’t be eaten, but by putting a fight against non-dangerous chemicals such as this one you are doing a disservice to the real fight against dangerous food additives.

    2. I support Food Babe in her campaign. The FDA and USDA are not to be trusted. Too many of the decisions made by the are pro Agra-Business and Con consumers. Unsafe products are constantly being introduced into our food.. Of course, i also have to include the pharmaceutical industries greed in choosing to make products from synthetic “nutrients” that our bodies cannot process because they cannot make a mega profit by selling natural products to treat a condition. Way to go America. Keep it up and we will all be dead.

      1. Yep. I agree. If you keep fighting agri-business and pharmaceutical companies and they just give up and go away, we will all be dead.

    3. Totally agree with you, George. I can’t stand the way people believe anything they are told as long as it sounds like someone is a crusader for them against the big bad companies. If these people are so concerned about the food they eat, why are they in fast food places to begin with? Do you think food would be this cheap if they can’t use any chemicals that make the food easier to make, take longer to spoil, taste better and look better? And all the “this chemical must be bad for X because it’s also in Y’. Drives me crazy what passes for logic nowadays.

    4. Hi George, I definitely don’t know all the answers, but I wonder why these chemicals are not allowed in foods in Europe while they are in the US? And have you ever made bread? I took a bread making classes in Europe and I’ll tell you the ingredients are pretty straight forward…

      1. That it is illegal in Europe and not here is not proof that it is dangerous. It’s also possible that a chemophobic activist like Food Babe made it illegal in Europe in the first place. You should provide more proof than that.

    5. The carcinogenic compound that is possible from Azodicarbonamide is known as ethyl carbamate. It is 100% true that it is classified as a “Pure Carcinogen”. Ethyl carbamate is also naturally occurring in soy sauce, beer, and just about anything fermentation based. You’d find a small amount in bread if the maximum allowed 45 PPM of Azodicarbonamide was used and only a fraction of that turns into ethyl carbamate. Most sources I can find list it as 2ppb in bread and soy sauce at 20ppm, so a factor of 1000x more.

      Not to say it isn’t a carcinogen, just that a beer and a bowl of rice with soy sauce would have many thousands times more of this same ingredient. So I look forward to your petition to ban nature and it’s evil use of cancer causing carcinogens in our food.

    6. George, not disagreeing with you point that the chemicals may be harmless. I still wonder why bread in general in Europe is made chemical free and I don’t think it has to do with Food Babe, although I’m sure she wishes that she was that influential 🙂

      1. I said “someone like her” not her. When you say that bread is made “chemical free” in Europe, are you under the impression that water, sugar and yeast are not chemicals? Everything is a chemical! In Europe, they use Guar gum as a bread thickener. Do you know what it’s also used for? It’s used to make paper, explosives, fabrics, fire retardants, etc. Would this prove that it’s unsafe to eat? NO!

    7. As a baker, I wish we could go back to the days of Potassium Bromate for dough strengthening. It sounds better than ADA (afterall, Potassium is good for us, right). It would be a great replacement to ADA, since ADA was never able to perform as well as KBr when that was forced out inexcusably.

  9. What about all the nitrates and crap in the meat? They need to fix those before it is really safe to eat there. I mean, anyway you look at it, Subway is not eating healthy.

    1. The ONLY problem would be, there would be no preservatives left. The meat and other products are shipped from their distribution points and the time involved after production of the meats could pose as a danger to spoilage.

      I’m not sure if a safe preservative even exists. Anyone can chime in on that….

    1. Denise, right you are. Now that I know of yet another bizarre none-food ingredient in food items, I began looking for it. Passed on a loaf of bread today because of it.

  10. First step as all of us know and have communicated……… keep it going. We’re behind you. We’ve been getting poisoned for decades now ……… Challenge and a lot of questions to the FDA is mandatory!!!!!!!!!

  11. So glad that I’m part of a conscious group of folks trying to get a better food supply. Too much nonsense has been going on for too long. Junk food is beyond junk food… it is “Junk not-even-food.” Also vote with your dollars. If you want quick food go to Chipotle, that’s the best quality quick food. Buy real food from the health food store. Buy organic. Grow sprouts. Be creative.

    1. Chipolte still uses GMO soy and their tortilla chips are made of corn, not organic corn, so therefore it is GMO.

  12. I am glad to see the word spreading and I really hope we can make changes. We have to hold companies accountable for what they are using in the products we consume. Subway is just one of many US companies that has different formulations for products they sell here versus what they sell in other countries. Why do we allow companies to use ingredients that can be harmful to our health? It seems that Europeans demand more from the companies that sell products in their countries. We seem to accept ingredients in our products that other consumers in other parts of the world wouldn’t. Are we so focused on cost that we ignore the possible consequences? Want to be heard…keep your wallet closed. As a country we are not the healthiest people. In my opinion if you see a obese person in Europe … is probably an American tourist.

  13. Lovely that they use hydrogenated oil in their European bread. Why can’t they just make decent “fresh” bread???!!!

  14. I will sign the petition. I stopped eating there years ago. I frequent my favorite mom and pop sandwich shops. I don’t feel like I am talking to a robot that wants to rush me though the line even when I am the only one in it. Hello!! welcome to………

  15. While I totally support and appreciate any improvement of food ingredients (I am virtually all organic in my eating choices) in our food products—-what about the soybean oil (totally GMO and highly pesticided), the dough (all chemical) conditioners, the ammonium sulfate and “natural” flavor that still remain in their bread products??? The simple solution to me would be: just don’t eat any Subway products. If enough people stopped eating their food, that’s what “speaks” to them: the $$$ loss. After all, it’s corporate GREED that determines anything these companies do…..not the quality of their product or the consequences on human health. Stop supporting them….

  16. i sent a letter to the prez to please ask mrs. O to please talk with Subway about this & not promote them unless they remove the poison. thanks for the iinfo.

  17. The ingredients from the UK and Europe are not much better – no azodicarbonamide but they use hydrogenated oils?! Hopefully they do not take the azodicarbonamide out and replace it with something else just as harmful!

  18. Meant to add that I just went to my own bread stash and this chemical is in all my bread……… let’s take it upon ourselves to each get 50+ people signed up on this……. POWER OF THE PEOPLE

  19. Thanks Vani!
    I all appreciate your hard work on taking these companies to task for making profits by poisoning us, just to increase profits!

    Best regards,
    Joe Azzato

  20. Why don’t we all stop eating this fast food crap? Why don’t we stop eating meat and spare poor animals the suffering . Why? Why don’t we eat less and wholesome? Why do we relay on fast food poison? Why ? Ask yourself !

  21. i liked subway but wouldn’t touch it after reading about this.. amazing fail on their part to put bad food out and call it good.. it’s great that people rise up like this.

  22. Hey Vani,
    Love this and everything you do like it. I’m a sucker for “The Biggest Loser” and am repeatedly irked how they work (clearly their megabuck-sponsor) Subway into episode after episode. *Especially* when Bob’s promoting it, b/c he’s at least halfway an enviro kinda guy (at least so it seems). I imagine it bugs him but maybe not. Sure, they have some low-fat/low-calorie food, but food quality obviously is quite poor. Anyway, thought you might have the standing to connect with him on this issue, and perhaps persuade him (them?) to emphasize food quality higher. Just a thought…
    Many blessings,
    Dr. Deb

  23. You Rock Girl!! Keep up the good work, I’m so impressed by your tenacity and desire to educate. I truly appreciate your efforts and am so glad I signed the petition!!

  24. When Subway added statements below to their website I think they forgot to mention a few important ingredients to us……….like not only are we adding Calcium and Vitamin D we thought we’d put in some shoe rubber and a yoga mat too

    Following from Subways website:
    ##Adding important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D into the bread in the US as of April 2011.
    ##Added fiber and whole grains to the wheat bread in North America.

  25. Congratulations Food Babe and every one who took a moment of their time. It was a thrill to see a petition actually acted upon which is quite unusual from my experience.

  26. I am still extremely disappointed that a woman with as much influence as Michelle Obama would partner in the name of health with a company that is so unhealthy.
    She eats organic and knows exactly what’s up. So much good she could be doing. Even if their bread was fresh farm ground organic wheat with all pure organic ingredients everything else they put in their sandwich is bad news. I would never eat their food or give any of my support to touting their “healthfulness”

  27. It took only four lifecycles for lab rats to become 100% sterile when eating GMO corn……we are now feeding it to our second generation of human lab rats…….. 100% sterile……..look up the facts!

    1. Trying to find it. Can’t. Care to share a link to the study? Not interested in a rant website with an agenda (like this one). I want to read the ACTUAL research.

      1. Anyone who can not find the countless articles about GMO and sterilty would be the person with the agenda. Stop posing and attempting to create conflict. Sterility or cancer will change your life just as quick as anyone else’s. Google it!

    2. Nice deflection from the truth there Mathew. She is right. You are the one who said GMO causes sterility. Should be easy to prove so I challenge you to do it.

      1. Ted-you are the deflective one. Your new name Don Defense. Your entire objective is to have a study posted zo you can prove thT they mislelled FDA so as to discredit. You are lost. ANYONE CAN FIND HUNDREDS OF ARTICLES ABOUT GMO STERILITY AND CANCER. THERE ARE DOZENS OF STUDIES EVEN SECRET LEAKED STUDY RESULTS. I refuse to play into your game. Your PAID objective is to discredit anything apposing your corporate chemicals. You are small minded and easy to see. GO find weak link. Your game is up. WHY WOULD YOU BE SO INTERESTED IN APPOSING. TELL TYE TRUTH………YOU ARE A CORPORATE CHEMICAL CON!!!!!!,

    3. I did a google search and found what you are talking about. Sounds really dire but that’s what it is meant to sound from the websites that showed up promoting the study you mention. I do sincerely hope that there are ongoing testing by objective scientists to see if these health concerns are valid. I post the following link only to show that there are some major medical organizations scattered throughout the world that endorse the use of GMO crops.

      I deflect nothing, Mathew. I am in favor of the judicious use of legal chemicals in order to enhance our quality of life. Based on your rambling rant, I am guessing you are in favor of illegal chemicals to enhance quality of life.

      1. Your disignenous response does not warrant any furthet attention. Mr Clown, on your own time and to yourself, define major medical organization. Your attempt to cloud the issue is less impressive than the cloud cover created by the chem trails you currently breathe each day. Grow up and better yet, grow some courage and stand for what is right not ehat benefits your wallet.

    4. You say “your new name is Don Defense” and call me Mr. Clown and I’m the one who needs to grow up? Your response is typical of those without good information. You try to marginalize those you don’t agree with. Your responses have been very impressive. Have a nice day there Mathew.

  28. When I was in France in 1988 I was completely surprised that I could eat wheat products and not have any kind of reaction. When I see the list of ingredients in the first part of your post – it’s obvious to me that “something” in American wheat is causing my intestinal and attention problems. Dam-it! I feel betrayed. Why do we need so many ingredients here in America?

  29. Will continue to push Subway in this matter for safety. Unrelated to the dangerous chemical but as a sidebar, both formulas U.S. and Europe contain soy- the world’s 8th largest allergen and not good for thyroids. I am allergic to soy. Glad they are labeling it. Wish they would offer and alternative as well.

  30. I fully support this, but could you explain why the UK and Australian 9 grain bread ingredient lists don’t appear to have 9 grains in them?
    This is in large part why the US ingredient list looks so long in comparison.
    Again, not trying to deflect from the awesome result here, but this just looks odd to me.

  31. Cancer will never go away because of what is in our food supply. I was never a fan of SUBWAY because the bread is always too soft and tasteless and I’m not too sure of the contents of nitrates in their “meats & cheeses”. Fix and remove these contents NOW!

  32. I’m glad Subway has been exposed! When can we expose our government or FDA for not doing their job ??

  33. I’m glad of the working you’re doing. I just want to bring to your attention that many products change their ingredients for the continental USA but usually keep us US territories like Puerto Rico with the harmful stop. I’ve been trying to wake people up but they just look at me like I’m crazy or just listen to humor me.

  34. Thank you for your hard work, you are truly making a difference. Be careful big business in the uSA downs not like to lose!

  35. I’m glad that Subway has been exposed ! When is the FDA finally going to do their job instead of others having to do it for them?? keep up the good work Vani !

  36. I’m so proud to be part of this army of educated consumers!!! Thank you for leading this endless fight. I heard it on NPR as I was driving to work and though they did not mention your name (“a blogger”) I was thrilled!!

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