The Reason Arby's Bread Products Are Banned In Some Countries

Arby's may have delicious roast beef and savory curly fries, but you might not find the same sandwich if you travel overseas. It seems hard to believe, but Arby's American-style bread is actually banned in some countries. Yes, the bread, and not the meat or oils. At first, you might want to blame the sugar content, as some bread can be very high in sugar. For example, Subway's 6-inch and foot-long rolls were actually declassified as "bread' in Ireland in 2020, according to the BBC. While the product was not banned, it was reclassified as a sweet or dessert for tax purposes — and many would conclude Arby's buns have met the same fate.

However, the reason for the sandwich ban has nothing to do with sugar but rather a little-known ingredient called Azodicarbonamide, or ACA (via The Guardian). Described as an agent that forms bubbles in foam or vinyl, this substance is also used to lighten and leaven dough. The complaint is that when consumed, this substance has been linked to cancer in rats. ACA is in approximately three Arby's menu items in the U.S., so you can relax your Beef 'n Cheddars (via Arby's). If you want to avoid this chemical, don't order croissants, French toast sticks, or sourdough breakfast bread. If you want to avoid this altogether, you should also ditch buying Pillsbury breadstick dough (via The Guardian).

Arby's Azodicarbonamide isn't allowed in E.U. foods

The E.U. has banned Azodicarbonamide since 2002 and modified this ruling in 2004, classifying this as a lower food risk (via Environmental Working Group). ACA is prohibited as a bread leavener and in plastic food packaging (via European Food Safety Authority). While it is possible, we are not aware of bans or similar risks from this chemical in non-food-related items, but just in case, we recommend you don't eat any foam.

While banned in Europe, the Environmental Working Group in the U.S. considers ACA a lower food risk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ACA for use as a food agent, specifically as a "whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in bread baking" (via FDA). While acknowledging that some studies did show a correlation with cancer in female mice, the FDA provides detailed data from studies that also show that this correlation was not found in enough mice, which were exposed to far higher levels of ACA than the average human. In addition, the FDA cites long-term studies from 2007 to 2010, 2009 to 2012, and 2016 which they use to support their findings of this substance as safe. So while some Arby's bread products are banned in other countries, your risk of consuming the associated chemical is probably very low as it is not widely used across menu items. The chemical ACA is in some U.S. foods, but it is easy to avoid.