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Schumer: Ban ‘Dangerous’ Yoga Mat Chemical From Foods

Subway, McDonald's Among Restaurant Chains To Use Azodicarbonamide
Sen. Charles Schumer holds up a McDonald's cheeseburger during a news conference in Manhattan on Feb. 9, 2014. (credit: Glenn Schuck/1010 WINS)

Sen. Charles Schumer holds up a McDonald’s cheeseburger during a news conference in Manhattan on Feb. 9, 2014. (credit: Glenn Schuck/1010 WINS)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should ban a chemical used to make yoga mats from also being used in food, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

Standing outside McDonald’s on West 34th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan and holding a cheeseburger, Schumer, D-N.Y., also demanded fast-food chains stop using azodicarbonamide.

The chemical is used to make rubbery products such as yoga mats and the soles of shoes. But some fast-food restaurants add azodicarbonamide — used as a bleaching agent and to make dough more elastic — to their breads.

The Subway sandwich chain agreed last week to stop using the chemical.

Schumer said many studies show azodicarbonamide is a cancer-causing chemical.

“There’s not just one study that shows that this chemical is dangerous; there’s a whole number,” he told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.

Schumer said the chemical is banned “in most of the developed world, including Australia and much of the EU.”

“McDonald’s bread is so full of azodicarbonamide so that billions and billions served could really be billions and billions served toxic chemicals,” he said.

McDonald’s has acknowledged on its website in the past using azodicarbonamide, but said its customers should not be concerned for their health.

“This is a common food additive and is used in many items on your grocer’s shelves, including many hot dog buns and other bread products that you probably already purchase,” the hamburger chain said. “It is regulated under the FDA and is considered safe. … A variation of Azodicarbonamide has commercial uses and is used in the production of some foamed plastics, like exercise mats. But this shouldn’t be confused with the food-grade variation of this ingredient.”

Schumer joked that he didn’t support banning azodicarbonamide completely.

If “they want to keep putting it in yoga mats and shoes, not too many people eat those, so that’s OK,” Schumer said.

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