Let's face it, we ALL love bread. Well, the large majority of us anyway. But conventionally processed bread can be detrimental to our health for a number of reasons, due to the long list of unhealthy ingredients it contains, including added sugars, chemical preservatives and artificial coloring.
Another reason it's not so great for our bodies is because wheat crops are routinely doused in harmful herbicides like glyphosate, which the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed "probably carcinogenic" last spring.
As you're likely aware, one of the primary reasons Big Food adds unhealthy ingredients to their products, is to preserve shelf life; in fact, this is their main concern when it comes to formulating food products because it increases profitability.
Beware of these buns!
Unfortunately, bread is no exception, and in fact can be the golden child of chemically preserved foods. As Food activist Vani Hari, the Food Babe explains, "Real food naturally goes bad – that's what it is supposed to do."
Except for the Arctic Apple, however, whose makers genetically engineered it to never turn brown – and of course we have no way of confirming the safety of this modification.
But anyway, back to bread.
"So when I see bread that lasts over 10 days, I start to squirm thinking about all the additives it must contain to keep it looking 'fresh,'" wrote Food Babe in one of her latest blog posts, exposing the fast food industry's fake bread.
"[B]uns at popular fast food restaurants are designed to last much longer than fresh baked buns, sometimes longer than 2 weeks. In order to achieve this long shelf life that improves profitability they have to pump those buns up with artificial, man-made, chemical ingredients."
So, what exactly is in fake bread, and what impact is it having on our bodies? One commonly found ingredient, which is well known due to the significant amount of bad press it's received thanks to Food Babe and other food activists, is Azodicarbonamide, a dough conditioner.
Azodicarbonamide has been dubbed the "yoga mat" chemical because it's used to make yoga mats and shoe rubber. Food Babe and others successfully petitioned Subway to remove this chemical, which is banned in Europe and Australia, from their sandwich bread in 2014; however, it's still widely used elsewhere.
The dough conditioner has been linked to respiratory problems, allergies and asthma, according to the WHO. When heated, it breaks into two compounds associated with tumor development and cancer. Fast food chains guilty of using this chemical include Burger King, McDonald's (McRib bun), Dairy Queen and Arby's.
Artificial trans fats
Conventionally produced bread tends to contain emulsifiers, or chemicals used to create texture which can be found in other things like cake, ice cream and salad dressing. Monoglycerides and Diglycerides are "a byproduct of oil processing – including partially hydrogenated canola and soybean oils – which contain artificial trans fat," explains Food Babe.
Artificial trans fats are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. They also promote inflammation and obesity, reports Live Science. Shake Shack, Dairy Queen, KFC, Burger King, Wendy's, McDonald's, Jack In The Box and Arby's all use these chemicals in their buns.
Another harmful and quite disgusting ingredient used in buns is calcium peroxide, a bleaching agent and dough conditioner that's banned in China. This ingredient screams "heavily processed." If you see it, it's best avoided. Chick-Fil-A, McDonald's, Dairy Queen, Jack In The Box and Arby's all use calcium peroxide.
Found in soda, chocolate, custards, doughnuts, gravy and brown bread, artificial caramel color comes in four different types, with some containing a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-Mel). Studies show that this chemical causes cancer in mice, reports Consumer Reports. Currently, there are no legal limits on the amount of 4-Mel used in food and beverages.
Arby's uses 4-Mel in their buns, but we haven't learned which type yet.
Natural or artificial flavors
"Any time you see flavors on an ingredient list be aware that you don't really know what you are eating," says Food Babe. Each "flavor" contains a secret list of up to 100 ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group, including "synthetic chemicals such as the solvent propylene glycol or the preservative BHA."
They also contain genetically modified ingredients and excitotoxins such as MSG, which synthetically stimulate your brain to crave more. Carl's Jr., Dairy Queen, Wendy's and Arby's are all guilty of using so-called natural and artificial flavors in their buns.
For more on harmful substances to avoid in fast-food buns, continue reading the rest of Food Babe's article here.