TAMPA, Florida - Wednesday's announcement by Subway to remove a chemical additive called Azodicarbonamide (ADA) sparked a firestorm of debate.
An online petition helped convince Subway to begin the process of removing the "dough conditioning" chemical from all of their sandwich bread.
Click here to see if your favorite food contains this chemical.
"When you go to Subway and you break open that bread it has this really nice pattern of bubbles in it. That chemical is one of the reasons it has that pattern," said University of South Florida microbiologist Jill Roberts of USF Health. "No matter where you go in the country every loaf of Subway bread will look exactly the same."
Roberts says she had been following the online petition and was not surprised by the company's decision.
"The question is could you make bread without it? Certainly. Yes you could. Are you going to get the same texture? No. Is the cost going to be the same? Probably not."
Roberts says she understands why some consumers are uneasy about extra chemicals in our food supply.
"If you heard the things that were in your food were things used to make rubbers and plastics, would that make you want to run out and boy that sandwich? Probably not."
But Roberts says Azodicarboamide has been extensively tested around the world and studies that suggest it could cause asthma or skin allergies where in those breathing the chemical, not eating it.
"I am fairly certain the bagel I had for lunch had this chemical in it. I am not concerned," Roberts said with a smile.
But she also understands why other countries have banned the chemical outright and why others might be concerned.
"Even though we have shown in these studies that this chemical is probably not going to result in any risk to the consumer, why take any risk what so ever?"
In the end, Roberts says consumers should be aware of what they're eating and make the final decision themselves.
"If you read your labels, you're going to see what's on there. You can scan through and see is this chemical that I've heard about is it present here?"
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