Subway announced on Thursday, February 6th, 2014 that it has unilaterally decided to remove an ingredient (azodicarbonamide) approved by the US FDA for use as an “aging and bleaching agent” used in flour in a concentration not to exceed 2.05 grams per 100 pounds. Presumably the azodicarbonamide makes bread products whiter and “bouncier” and is used by a number of fast-food chains, restaurants and groceries across the nation. The ingredient is banned for similar use in Great Britain, the European Union and Australia.
Subway’s action was prompted by Vani Hari, an activist food blogger, who has gone after other restaurants and food companies for their use of controversial ingredients.
As of February 9th, Senator NY Chuck Schumer (D) chose not to miss the opportunity to capitalize politically on the announcement by Subway. He has called for the FDA to outright ban the ingredient for such use.
In my view this presents another example of the free market imposing discipline upon itself to improve the products and services provided. This has occurred despite a fully funded FDA. I mention this as the incentive to monitor the market independently is reduced as people rely on the various agencies to perform the tasks assigned to them. So where was the state leading the charge for your safety? How is it that an activist blogger is the entity responsible for this improvement? Is this not an example of how market discipline is imposed by activists, competitors and consumers.
Subway is using this to position itself better against its competitors as an even healthier alternative.
Another example of how a free market would work (as it has worked in a hampered market).