U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer stands in front of a...

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer stands in front of a Manhattan McDonald's to announce a major push to ban a chemical commonly found in fast-food bread products, and suspected to be a carcinogen, from all food products nationwide, during a press conference on Feb. 09, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Sen. Charles Schumer Sunday called on the FDA to ban a chemical that's added into the bread at most fast-food chains.

"In a day where cancer rates are rising . . . you have to be careful," he said outside a McDonald's on Manhattan's West Side.

Many restaurants, grocery stores and fast-food chains, like McDonald's, use azodicarbonamide to condition dough and make the bread last longer, but studies have found that it can create semicarbazide, a carcinogen, when cooked.

"The burger chain is one of many restaurants, like Arby's, Burger King and Wendy's, that use the chemical," Schumer said.

Last week, Subway announced it would stop using the chemical in its stores. McDonald's didn't return messages for comment.

Schumer is less worried about the use of the chemical in other products such as shoe soles and yoga mats. "It's pretty infrequent that we'd eat a shoe or yoga mat," he said.

Australia and the European Union have already banned azodicarbonamide from their food and the United States should follow suit, Schumer said.

The FDA could easily be rid of the chemical by attaching it to a clause in regulations, which prohibits the agency from approving anything carcinogenic for consumption.

"We need to do everything we can to remove carcinogens from the food pyramid," Schumer said.

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