Nudged by Social Media, Martin’s Breads Removes Controversial “Yoga Mat” Additive

Few consumers knew exactly what Azodicarbonamide was before food blogger Vani Hari of campaigned Subway Sandwich Shops to remove the controversial “yoga mat” chemical and food additive from their breads.

martin's post picNow, in response to hundreds of customer requests via a combination of calls and social media messages on Facebook and Twitter, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc., makers of Martin’s Potato Breads and other baked goods, announced it is planning to remove Azodicarbonamide (ADA) from its’ products “as soon as they are able.”

While the company didn’t specify a date when the additive would be removed completely from its products, it stated that it’s been testing a new recipe for the past several months that would allow removal of ADA without “changing the taste or quality of its bread and rolls.”

ADA was dubbed the “yoga mat” chemical after it was revealed that a similar version of the compound also has industrial uses as a foaming agent in the manufacture of rubber and plastic products to enhance elasticity.

As a food additive, ADA makes the dough in baked goods rise faster as well as making products lighter and fluffier, thus improving texture.

Based in Chambersburg, PA, Martin’s first made the announcement as a note on its Facebook page, where about 250 customers had posted comments asking the company to stop using the questionable additive.

South Carolina customer Polly Dobos Weaver posted the following comments recently to Martin’s Facebook page. “I have always loved your rolls – however I just noticed your rolls contain the chemical ‘Azodicarbonamide’ which is linked to several health problems. A most recent article from NPR says ‘This is an unnecessary chemical that’s added to bread.’ And there are viable alternatives, such as ascorbic acid, which is a form of vitamin C.”

And, Massachusetts customer Sheila Shepardson went even further in her Facebook post. “I have been using your bread for years and thought that while it does taste good; it is one of the worst breads available. I am so disappointed. I have loaves in the freezer that I am going to toss out…not even give it to the birds. What is wrong with the food industry that they won’t produce good healthy food!!!! Shame on all of you… needless to say, I will have to start making all my bread again; I am an older person and resent having to spend my time baking everything from scratch….again.”

The company’s announcement comes amid a recent report by a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy group, Environmental Working Group that found the additive present in nearly 500 foods sold in U.S. Supermarkets.

And, while the additive has been deemed “safe” for use by the U.S. FDA as a dough conditioner, it is banned by the European Union and Australia due to concerns related to asthma and possible inhalation of the compound during the manufacturing process.

The American Baker’s Association, an industry trade group, called ADA “a functional ingredient that improves the quality of bread and any substitutes are not likely to work as well.”

ADA’s use as a dough conditioner dates all the way back to 1962, following a New Jersey pharmaceutical and engineering firm’s discovery that ADA was a good dough conditioner.

Julie Martin, who handles social media duties for Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc. and whose grandparents founded the family business back in 1955, said that her family “lives and breathes the company.”

“…It’s not easy these days for an American-family run company to compete with huge conglomerates that are 10 times bigger than us,” Martin said in an emailed statement.

‘’But we all work hard and we are blessed with great coworkers, and we strive to serve both our customers and our employees the best we can.”

Do you think online campaigns are effective in getting companies to change their products as well as sales and marketing strategies? Tell us in the comments or Tweet to us @10000words.