Imagine trying to eat a yoga mat or a rubber shoe sole. Not very appetizing, yet millions of South Africans are eating bread containing azodicarbonamide (ADA), a chemical that is also found in yoga mats.
ADA is banned in food in Europe, the UK and Australia, but is legal in the US, Canada and in South Africa.
ADA or the “yoga mat” chemical is used to make plastic and rubber shoes, flip-flops and yoga mats more pliable. It is added to flour or bread to make it whiter, softer and to improve shelf life.
Although regulated levels of 45 parts per million (45nig per kg) are not known to be toxic, a World Health Organisation study concluded that the effects of the public‘s exposure to ADA through food “could not be evaluated because of the lack of available data“.
It also said that when handled in large quantities (in factories), the chemical caused respiratory problems, including asthma.
It is a matter of concern that SASKO, who already has the lion’s share of the market in flour sales in the Eastern Cape, continues using a product that is potentially harmful to the consumer, according to DA provincial leader Athol Trollip.
“I have asked my colleague in the national parliament, Annette Steyn, to ask/put questions to the ministers of Agriculture and of Health, regarding the permissibility of the use of ADA without disclosing its use,” said Trollip.
While companies who use this additive have given vague indications that the use of ADA will be phased out, they cannot be allowed to do this of their own volition and without categoric disclosure, added Trollip.