Subway announced today that it will be removing a chemical from its bread, Azodiacarbonamide, that is used to increase elasticity in shoe rubber and yoga mats. What the…?
In a statement, Subway, which is “the world’s biggest sandwich chain,” maintains that they’re removing the ingredient despite the fact that it’s FDA and USDA approved.
“Fresh baked bread — and the perception of better-for you offerings –is a major deal to Subway. It’s one of the chain’s central selling points,” USA Today notes. It’s the “better-for you” part — the veneer of healthiness that Subway promotes about its food — that is taking the biggest hit with this news.
Last June, Jared the Subway Guy celebrated 15 years as a spokesperson for the brand (and $15 million that has come with it). The message has always been that Jared got healthy, lost the weight and kept it off with the help of Subway’s low-fat sandwiches. A meal at Subway is supposed to provide a low-fat alternative to the burgers and fried foods that are sold at other fast-food restaurants.
Even Michelle Obama has touted the sandwiches, appearing at a Subway a couple of weeks ago.
“Subway is offering all of these healthy options for kids… What you can do with every single item on the kids menu is know that it meets the highest nutrition standards,” she said.
No one thinks eating a chemical that you can wear on your shoe is healthy, let alone the pinnacle of good eating. And consumers will be discomfited with the idea that this message made it all the way to the First Lady, a huge proponent of healthy eating with her Let’s Move campaign, and only now is this ingredient becoming an issue.
So Subway has done some damage to its reputation with this revelation. It will be interesting to see what they do, if anything, as a result. One option is to double up on the healthy message, accompanying it with another change to the menu that shows they’re serious about including only healthy items (or at least, only food items) in the kitchen. And now would be the time to remove any other unsavory chemicals that might be lurking around.
Image via @Subway