As insight into the desirability of using azodicarbonamide in bread making, consider how many of C&EN’s readers would use this ingredient when making bread for themselves (C&EN, Feb. 17, page 9). Few would, I daresay. There are two reasons: First, it is unnecessary. Although it functions as a dough conditioner, azodicarbonamide’s purpose is to decrease the cost of making large amounts of bread quickly. Second, with the notable exceptions of salt, water, and a few necessary minerals, many people, if not most, find the use of ingredients in their food that are not derived by simple processes from living things to be offensive.
The focus solely on the safety of ingredients is often used to frame the discussion of an issue so as to preclude consideration of this second point as a valid reason for opposition to their use. This is usually followed up by claims that the public is uneducated in such matters, implying that they are not fit to make decisions about what they eat.
David LaneI think this is an interesting perspective and one not usually seen in the pages of C&EN.
I think he gets at something that chemists will have a difficult time escaping: if framed in the correct manner, much labor-and cost-saving activity in the food preparation sector ('pink slime', etc.) triggers the "ick factor"*. That it's scientifically irrelevant or inaccurate doesn't really matter, and efforts to convince the general public otherwise have a low probability of success.
*I'm reminded of Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory, specifically "sanctity/degradation."