Today, Panera Bread shared its progress in removing a host of what the company deems “unacceptable” ingredients. Panera has committed to remove artificial additives and published a No No List of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives that the Company has eliminated or intends to remove from its U.S. Panera Bread® and St. Louis Bread Co.® bakery-café food menus by the end of 2016. This move makes Panera Bread the first national restaurant company in the U.S. to publicly share a comprehensive list of ingredients that will be removed from or will never appear in its menu items.
“Last year we unveiled our Food Policy to hold ourselves accountable to long-held values and set the future vision for our menu. The No No List is the latest step on our journey to clean food and transparent menu,” said founder and CEO Ron Shaich in a recent statement.
The artificial additives on the No No List will be removed across the Company’s food menu, from the bakery, soups, salads and sandwiches. The list also includes substances such as high fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats. In total, over 150 ingredients will be affected.
“Simplifying our pantry is essential to our vision, but it is not an end point. We want to be an ally for wellness for the millions of guests we serve each week,” said Shaich.
Panera’s culinary team has been working alongside suppliers for over a year to “un-engineer” its food menu, removing artificial additives which have become commonplace across the restaurant supply chain. The team has worked to evolve existing recipes such as finding replacements for artificial colors in pastries and removing artificial preservatives in its soups.
“It is encouraging to see chain restaurants take clear, measurable steps to provide healthful and sustainably produced food,” said Ricardo Salvador, Director and Senior Scientist, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists. “By removing artificial and unnecessary ingredients from their food today, together with industry-leading commitment to antibiotic-free and ethical meat practices, Panera is demonstrating that healthy accessible and equitable food can also be good business.”
As of today, Panera bakery-cafes across the country will offer new “clean” salad dressings that are made without artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. Additionally, the Strawberry Poppy Seed & Chicken Salad as well as the new Kale Caesar will be made entirely without any additives.
“Dressings have been one of the most complex projects given the number of artificial additives – namely flavors and preservatives – conventionally used for taste and consistency,” said Dan Kish, Panera Bread’s Head Chef. “We’re proud to be offering bakery-café salad dressings without artificial additives. We believe they also taste better than ever.”
So far, about 85 percent of the ingredients on the bakery menu are in test or have rolled out nationally without these No No ingredients. Reworked items will continue to roll out steadily as Panera approaches its 2016 deadline.
“With this bold commitment, Panera is showing impressive leadership in the restaurant industry to give consumers what they increasingly demand: food with fewer artificial ingredients and additives,” said Ken Cook, EWG president and cofounder. “We are grateful that the Panera team reached out to our experts and listened to our recommendations to improve their fare, eliminating EWG’s ‘dirty dozen’ food additives from their food and using other information from our Food Scores database. We commend Panera for stepping up in support of healthier food made with ‘cleaner’ ingredients.”
Panera has joined a growing list of food brands that are cleaning up their ingredient lists. In March, Hershey promised GMO-free kisses by the end of 2015 and McDonald’s said it would no longer sell poultry treated with antibiotics; and in February, Nestlé announced it would remove all artificial flavors and colors from its candy.