After a deluge of bad press brought on by a prominent food blogger, Subway has announced that the ‘yoga mat’ chemical is almost phased out of its bread. The chemical, azodicarbonamide, can be found in a variety of foods and is approved by the FDA as a dough conditioner or bleaching agent. Yeah, just saying dough conditioner is enough of a turnoff.
It came under an onslaught when it was found to be used in yoga mats. Nothing says $5 dollar footlong like an ingredient used in making yoga mats. Maybe some cross advertising can be found in that. Free yoga mat with a purchase of a sub.
The phasing out of the ingredient began late last year, and Subway expects the process to be completed within a week. Now, attention can be turned to other chains that use it in their breads, such as Burger King, Starbucks, and bread you purchase at the supermarket.
With Subway being privately held, we can’t see the impact the uproar has had on its bottom line, but it was evidently enough for the company to act. Tony Pace, Subway’s chief marketing officer, spoke to the AP about the social media uproar over the disclosure. “You see the social media traffic, and people are happy that we’re taking it out, but they want to know when we’re taking it out,” Pace said. “If there are people who have that hesitation, that hesitation is going to be removed.”
The move by Subway represents a shift in focus for fast food companies. No longer is the price the main focus, but quality ingredients. People may love the dollar menu, but food quality is quickly becoming its partner.
Food blogger, Vani Hari of FoodBabe.com targeted the company over the use of the chemical because of the company’s image of serving healthy food. She said she is happy with the move, but not done with here crusade. She says Subway still uses questionable ingredients such as caramel coloring and yeast extract. The crusade begs the question, does anyone really down a footlong sub and think it’s healthy?
Companies are definitely seeing the shift in the consumer’s appetite. Natural is sweeping the nation, and companies are jumping on the train to be seen as offering the most natural ingredients on its menu. It isn’t only on the restaurant level either. ConAgra moved to simplify the ingredients in their Healthy Choice frozen meals, and Pepsi removed a chemical from Gatorade.
It seems Vani Hari’s crusade for healthy and natural foods is paying off.