by: Paige Hansen Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte-based food activist and blogger is getting international attention Thursday after a petition she created prompted sandwich chain Subway to change its bread recipe.
Vani Hari is the author of FoodBabe.com, which she writes out of her Uptown apartment. She says she started investigating the ingredients in Subway's bread because of the company's health-based marketing claims. Hari says she discovered Subway uses an ingredient called "azodicarbonamide."
"This chemical is the same stuff in yoga mats, shoe rubber and synthetic leather," Hari said in an interview Thursday. "It's basically plastic in food and what it does is actually make the food more elastic, more bubbly."
Through her research, Hari discovered the World Health Organization has linked the ingredient to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma. When Hari could not get a response from Subway herself, she decided on Tuesday of this week to start a petition. The next day, Subway agreed to remove azodicarbonamide after more than 57,000 people signed that petition.
"Honestly, it wasn't me just voicing this, it was them [readers] sharing it with their friends and family and then those friends and family sharing it with their friends and family," Hari said. "This is how you change the world."
Eyewitness News asked Subway why the ingredient is used, why it was being removed and when, but the company opted to send this statement, which said: "We are already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is USDA and FDA approved ingredient. The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon."
Hari says she also has more questions for Subway and would like to visit their headquarters to learn more about their ingredients.
"This the fourth big victory for the 'Food Babe Army' and we have a lot more food companies to hold accountable," Hari said. The Food Babe has also prompted changes in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.