Use as a food additive
As a food additive, azodicarbonamide is used as a flour bleaching agent and an improving agent. It reacts with moist flour as an oxidizing agent. The main reaction product is biurea, a derivative of urea, which is stable during baking. Secondary reaction products include semicarbazide and ethyl carbamate. The United States and Canada permit the use of azodicarbonamide at levels up to 45 ppm. In Australia and Europe the use of azodicarbonamide as a food additive is banned.
By David Andrews, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, and Elaine Shannon, Editor-in-chief and publisher
If you’ve planked on a yoga mat, slipped on flip-flops, extracted a cell phone from protective padding or lined an attic with foam insulation, chances are you’ve had a brush with an industrial chemical called azodicarbonamide, nicknamed ADA. In the plastics industry, ADA is the “chemical foaming agent” of choice. It is mixed into polymer plastic gel to generate tiny gas bubbles, something like champagne for plastics. The results are materials that are strong, light, spongy and malleable.
As few Americans realized until Vani Hari, creator of FoodBabe.com, spotlighted it earlier this month, you’ve probably eaten ADA. This industrial plastics chemical shows up in many commercial baked goods as a “dough conditioner” that renders large batches of dough easier to handle and makes the finished products puffier and tough enough to withstand shipping and storage. According to the new EWG Food Database of ingredients in 80,000 foods, now under development, ADA turns up in nearly 500 items and in more than 130 brands of bread, bread stuffing and snacks, including many advertised as “healthy.”