by Catherine J. Frompovich
Congratulations to the Environmental Working Group for publishing a list of nearly 500 brand names and products that contain an ingredient, which I jokingly would call “yoga-mat nutrition.”
The ingredient that gives absolutely no nutritional value but has questionable health effects is Azodicarbonamide (AZ). According to EWG, AZ
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.
Some brand names that use AZ in their products, according to EWG, are:
Ball Park, Butternut, Country Hearth, Fleischman’s, Food Club, Harvest Pride, Healthy Life, Jimmy Dean, Joseph Campione, Kroger, Little Debbie, Mariano’s, Marie Callendar’s, Martin’s, Mother’s, Pillsbury, Roman Meal, Sara Lee, Schmidt, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker’s, Sunbeam, Turano, Tyson, Village Hearth and Wonder.
Potential Acute Health Effects:
Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation (lung sensitizer).
Potential Chronic Health Effects:
Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (sensitizer).
CARCINOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available.
MUTAGENIC EFFECTS: Mutagenic for bacteria and/or yeast.
TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available.
DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Not available.
The substance may be toxic to kidneys. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
Why carcinogenic and teratogenic effects are not available refers to one of two probable reasons:
- the information is known but considered part of proprietary ‘trade secrets’ information that does not have to be divulged under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act  or,
- the studies to ascertain the damage from AZ, also known at the chemical Formamide (C2-H4-N4-O2), may not have been done either deliberately or otherwise.
The revelation that ‘yoga-mat ingredients’ are in so many U.S.-produced foods ought to infuriate consumers about all the poisonous chemicals we literally are being forced to eat. Misleading advertising entices us to purchase chemical-laden edibles, which really can’t be considered nutritious foods, as far as I’m concerned. Remember, I’m a retired natural nutritionist.
Reading food ingredient labels should become a key food-shopping routine for everyone concerned about what goes into one’s body as food. However, AZ probably is not listed as such on brand labels or may be considered an ingredient that does not have to be divulged.
A concise assessment of the risks to human health posed by exposure to azodicarbonamide, a chemical mainly used as a blowing agent in the rubber and plastics industries. The compound is used in the expansion of a wide range of polymers, including polyvinyl chloride, polyolefins, and natural and synthetic rubbers. Although no data on environmental levels are available, the report cites limited evidence suggesting rapid biodegradation in soil. Azodicarbonamide released to surface waters is expected to partition to the hydrosphere with no signification sorption to particulates. No data on exposure of the general population could be identified. Concerning kinetics and metabolism, limited animal studies of exposures via inhalation and ingestion indicate that substantial quantities remain unabsorbed and are rapidly eliminated in the faeces