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Panera Cuts Out All Artificial Ingredients and Preservatives

Panera Cuts Out All Artificial Ingredients and Preservatives

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Now your Mediterranean Veggie sandwich from Panera is guaranteed to be free from artificial stuff.

Panera is the latest fast-casual restaurant to go the all-natural route. The sandwich and bakery chain announced today that they will be implementing a new nutritional policy, and that by the end of 2016, all artificial ingredients, including artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and colors, will be removed from their menu items. Chipotle also made a similar announcement earlier in the year that they will now refrain from using GMO ingredients in their dishes.

“We believe simpler is better,” said Scott Davis, Panera’s Chief Concept Officer, in a statement. “Panera is on a mission to help fix a broken food system. We have a long journey ahead, but we’re working closely with the nutrition community, industry experts, farmers, suppliers, and others to make a difference. We’re pleased to publicly share our framework and intend to share progress over time.”

Panera revealed more specifics of their plan to improve transparency and healthfulness in their menu items, from removing high fructose corn syrup from bakery items and salad dressings to taking nitrites out of their deli meats.

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi

Why Panera is ditching these common soup ingredients used by Campbell's and Progresso

The bakery-cafe chain announced today that its soup menu is now “clean,” free of ingredients on the
“No No List” that the chain is banning from the menu. For example, the popular Broccoli Cheddar Soup has cut additives like hydrolyzed soy and corn protein and sodium phosphate — ingredients common in soups from companies including Campbell’s and Progresso .

The change required revamping recipes to cut FDA-approved additives — many with long, complicated names — to create soups with much shorter ingredient lists.

“Is there anything in there that may be completely safe to eat and okay to use by the FDA standpoint, but would it be in my home pantry?” Panera Head Chef Dan Kish told Business Insider on his thought process as he rewrote recipes. “I don’t keep a little container of sodium phosphate lying around in my kitchen.”

In other words, the items being removed aren’t necessarily bad for you — they just weren’t needed. And, as pushback against any non-natural ingredients has exploded in the last few years, it’s clear that customers want “cleaner” menus, whether or not additives have been proven to have negative health effects.

As Panera serves a lot of soup in a short amount of time (the company estimates it sells 200 million servings of soup a year), there is not a major need for preservatives. So, cutting additives from the menu will, ideally, only help Panera’s brand.

“As people’s perception of what good food is evolves over time — I’ll hitch my wagon to clean,” says Kish. “It’s hard to argue with simple ingredients that I have in my own home pantry, instead of things that I can’t pronounce or don’t understand.”

The most difficult part of the soup makeover for Kish was recreating the same taste without common soup ingredients — no better, no worse.

The goal was to make the new soups taste exactly the same as the older versions, despite cutting ingredients such as carrageenan, a seaweed-based product which can be used for stabilization, or sodium phosphate, which helps soups’ texture. It was a challenge that took more than 60 revisions of the Broccoli Cheddar soup recipe before reaching an end result that Kish was happy with.

“If you came in last week, and you came in this week, you shouldn’t notice the difference,” says Kish.

Despite the hopefully identical taste, Panera is publicizing the change. The company is releasing a 60-second trailer for the soup remake. Customers are encouraged to add their own reviews of the soup to the trailer via social media, using the hashtag #soupreview.

So far, waging a very public and transparent battle to cut additives from the menu has, at the very least, been a PR success for Panera.

“The Food As It Should Be campaign combined with our No No List announcement in May, plus an extensive outreach effort to key influences has created tremendously positive social media buzz and earned media coverage,” Panera’s president, Drew Madsen, said in an earnings call in October . “Panera has clearly become a reference brand for clean food in our industry.”

With Chipotle’s recent slump, it could be Panera’s time to shine when to comes to showcasing fresh, healthy ingredients — as well as a special attention to food safety, with the company’s first Responsibility Report published in late December. Whether or not Panera's soups were ever truly dirty, a clean menu has the potential to pay off for Panera in 2016.

11 Food Companies Removing Artificial Colors And Flavors By 2018

When you think of nacho cheese from Taco Bell, you probably picture a bright orange color that can really only be manufactured in a lab. That look will soon change, as the fast food chain plans to get rid of the artificial ingredients -- in this case, yellow dye no. 6 -- that cosmetically alter its food.

This kind of menu revamp has been adopted by many fast casual restaurants and big food brands this year. Kraft, Campbell Soup and many others have publicly announced promises to nix artificial ingredients and preservatives from most, if not all, of their edible offerings in the coming years, replacing them with natural alternatives.

The change comes at a time when consumer demand for healthier and more natural ingredients has surged: A 2014 report from the marketing research firm Nielsen showed that more than 60 percent of Americans found the lack artificial colors and flavors an important factor when making food purchases. While there isn't enough evidence to suggest that artificial flavors are harmful, removal is what the people want -- and their desires are being heard. Below, find 11 companies that are making changes to their foods now or in the near future.

The Mexican restaurant pioneered transparency about ingredients for chain restaurants and big food brands. By April 2015, Chipotle successfully removed all GMOs from its foods, the first chain to do so. The company is currently working to improve its tortillas, with hopes of serving them without the dough conditioners they currently contain.

In June, the chain announced that it will be producing tortillas with just four ingredients: whole wheat flour, water, oil and salt. The tortillas are still in the testing stage, but Chipotle is optimistic.

Panera Is The Latest To Drop Artificial Ingredients From Its Food

A pedestrian walks by a Panera Bread restaurant on June 3 in San Francisco. Panera Bread is set to remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from items on its menu by the end of 2016. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

A pedestrian walks by a Panera Bread restaurant on June 3 in San Francisco. Panera Bread is set to remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from items on its menu by the end of 2016.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

This news may feel like day-old bread, but here goes: Panera Bread is shaking up the fast-casual eatery world with its announcement to ditch more than 150 food additives by the end of 2016.

That includes everything from artificial colorings to preservatives to monosodium gluatamate, or MSG. Here's a list of Panera's new no-no list.

The question we're asking here at The Salt is: How much credit should the chain get for its highly orchestrated announcement? (Believe us when we say there was more than one PR firm promoting the news.)

In other words, how forward-thinking is the company? And how much are they trying to take credit for changes that are actually sweeping the entire food industry?

Here's our take: Kudos to Panera for shining a light on some of the standard practices among commercial food suppliers — such as adding titanium dioxide to mozzarella cheese in order to create an ultra-white appearance. Who needs bleach in their mozzarella, really?

The Salt

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Panera's head chef, Dan Kish, says that as he and his team pored over the hundreds of additives in the ingredients that Panera uses, they asked two questions: What is this? And why is it used?

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When he realized that the titanium dioxide was used for cosmetic purposes, he said, "Let's just take it out."

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Why The FDA Has Never Looked At Some Of The Additives In Our Food

Kish says he's not a scientist, so he doesn't want get into the debate over whether removing the additives makes the food more healthful, or less harmful. In any case, there's little evidence that many of the additives Panera is eliminating pose a measurable health risk at the amounts they're commonly used in food. We've reported, for instance, that there's little risk associated with azodicarbonamide, a chemical on the "no-no" list, despite its association as being the same compound that's in yoga mats.

Kish says he believes that the direction Panera is headed is driven much more by his philosophy of food and cooking. "We think a simplified pantry is a better pantry," he says.

Other Big Food companies like Nestle, Hershey and Kraft are also eliminating or cutting back on additives. And it's clear from survey data that more Americans favor such changes.

In January, Nielsen published a global survey showing that an increasing number of Americans say they want fresh, natural and minimally processed foods. What's more, 1 in 4 North Americans said they would pay a premium for foods that were "all natural" or contained no artificial colors.

But where Panera is not pushing new boundaries is its call to ditch trans fats. As we've reported, in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration required food companies to label the trans fats in their products. Since then, the entire food industry has cut back drastically on the use of partially hydrogenated oils. The Grocery Manufacturers Association estimates that food manufacturers have lowered the amounts of trans fats in their food products by over 73 percent.

So, on this particular ingredient, it's hard to give Panera credit for a change that has already swept through the entire industry.

And, here's one more hiccup in Panera's "no-no" list: The company says it will not use any high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners — such as aspartame and Ace-K — in its menu items.

And yet it will continue to sell beverages, such as sodas and diet-colas, that contain these sweeteners. "It's a big omission," says Lisa Lefferts, a senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Panera's Kish says the company is working with its beverage suppliers to move in this direction. So, he says, stay tuned.

Panera to Drop at Least 150 Artificial Ingredients From Menu

Ilan Brat

Panera Bread Co. committed itself to removing at least 150 artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives from its menu by the end of next year, the latest move by a major food company to respond to a consumer shift toward foods seen as simpler and more healthful.

The sandwich-and-salad chain, which has nearly 1,900 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, plans to eliminate ingredients such as fat substitutes and propylene glycol, a preservative used in consumer products as diverse as deodorant and electronic cigarettes. It has been working on the plans since 2012, and already has cut ingredients like sucralose, an artificial sweetener, and titanium dioxide, used to whiten mozzarella cheese.

The changes by Panera—a company already among leaders in reacting to health trends such as the growing preference for meat raised without antibiotics—highlight the complexity of revamping restaurant supply chains to adapt to fast-changing consumer tastes.

Panera’s move will apply to soups, sandwiches, salad dressings and many baked goods, but artificial ingredients will remain in some products, including soda.

Panera Cuts Out All Artificial Ingredients and Preservatives - Recipes

Recently, Chipotle announced it would only make burritos with non-genetically modified ingredients. Chipotle's fast, casual competitor, Panera has announced plans to drop 150 items from its list of ingredients following in its footsteps.

Panera has recently published its "No-No List" online, which includes the artificial preservatives, sweeteners, and flavors that Panera says will be taken off the menu by the end of 2016.

When asked about the drastic changes, Panera Bread founder and CEO Ron Shaich told Fortune:

"It is a much higher standard than what makes business sense. . It is 'how do I want to feed my daughter?' That's the gold-standard question, and when I answer that, it tells me what I want to do for my customers."

Panera, much like Chipotle, has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to removing items from its menu that are perceived as being unhealthy. More than a decade ago, Panera stopped using meat from animals that had taken antibiotics. Less than nine years ago, the company removed trans fat from its menus across the country.

This menu 'cleanse' was once unique to places like Panera and Chipotle, but over the past year many large corporations and restaurant chains like McDonalds, Nestle, Kraft, and Tyson have all joined the battle of appealing to health conscious consumers.

Making these major changes to the menu, doesn't come without challenges. Panera CEO says removing certain ingredients from its salad dressings was "the most challenging category by far." It took the company months to reformulate its dressing to fit the new standard.

Chipotle has experienced first hand the difficulties that can be created by sticking with a tougher standard. The company was forced to cut its ties with one of its major pork suppliers because the supplier was not raising its livestock according to the restaurant's responsibly-raised standards. Ultimately, the company had to stop serving pork in many of its locations across the country. This had a negative effect on sales.

While a healthier menu is undoubtedly a popular trend, it is also an expensive one. Panera's expense rose to $479 million during the first quarter of 2015, which is 10% higher than a year ago.

How do you feel about Panera's menu changes? Have your Panera favorites made the cut?

Award for "The Most Instagram-Friendly Lunch" goes to:

Panera to drop 150 artificial ingredients from its menu

NEW YORK — Good news, Panera Bread will no longer put Tert-Butyl-Hydroquinone in your sandwich.

The difficult-to-pronounce preservative is on a lengthy list of ingredients that the restaurant chain has promised to eliminate from its food by 2016.

Panera said it’s the first national chain to publish a comprehensive list of artificial additives and preservatives that will be removed. The move affects 150 ingredients that the company uses.

“We are not scientists,” said Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich. “We are people who know and love food, and who believe that the journey to better food starts with simpler ingredients.”

Panera is not the only restaurant company to hop on the healthy food bandwagon.

McDonald’s recently promised to stop using chickens treated with certain antibiotics. Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced plans to cut all genetically-modified foods from its burritos and bowls. And Dunkin’ Donuts has dropped titanium dioxide, an additive used in sunscreen and paints, from its powdered donuts.

The shift comes as consumers have become more aware of the unnatural ingredients used by the fast-food industry and are seeking healthy alternatives.

McDonald’s, once the leading fast-food chain, has been struggling to revive sales as consumers’ tastes have changed. It unveiled a turnaround plan Monday that includes better food made with higher-quality ingredients.

But the trend goes beyond fast food. Even some of the world’s largest food companies have been making changes. Kraft is removing artificial preservatives and synthetic colors from its macaroni and cheese, famous for its bright yellow color. Nestle is now making candy bars without artificial colors and flavors. Coke has removed a chemical used in flame retardant from its drinks.

Erik Olson, a health expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, applauded Panera’s decision to “eliminate a wide array of chemical additives from its foods.”

“This is part of the company’s quest to address consumer demands and potential health concerns,” Olson said in a statement released by Panera.

Panera is doing away with common additives such as high fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats. And it’s also dropping artificial colors and flavors, including chemical compounds like azodicarbonamide, methyl cellulose and potassium bromate.

Panera, which has 1,900 restaurants in the United States and Canada, said it has already started eliminating some of the ingredients.

The company also said it would offer new “clean” salad dressings made without artificial flavors or colors.

Panera Says Its Entire Soup Menu Is Now Devoid Of All Artificial Ingredients

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Panera Says Its Entire Soup Menu Is Now Devoid Of All Artificial Ingredients

The chain says its soup menu is “clean” now that its removed ingredients on its “No No List” of artificial additives.

For example, Broccoli Cheddar Soup will no longer contain additives like hydrolyzed soy and corn protein and sodium phosphate, ingredients which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which you’ll find in many soup recipes from companies like Campbell’s and Progresso. Other ingredients that have been ditched include maltodextrin and sodium phosphate.

It took some work to go through each soup recipe: Panera says Broccoli Cheddar alone was revised 60 times.

“I want to create soups that our guests will love” said Dan Kish, Panera Bread’s Head Chef, in the company’s press release. “And equally important, I want them to understand and feel confident in the ingredients that go into those soups. We’ve long been advocates of transparency – providing full ingredient information online – and with these new recipes we have even more to be proud of today.”

The items that have been removed haven’t been proven to be unhealthy, but Panera says they just weren’t needed. Companies like Campbell’s and Progresso that sell soup in stores need them to have a long shelf life, but because Panera serves a lot of soup in a short time period — about 200 million servings a year, the company estimates — preservatives aren’t as necessary.

“Time and again, we’ve found that when you replace artificial additives with simpler ingredients, you achieve a better taste,” said Kish.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.

Move Over Chipotle, Panera Bread is Removing Artificial Ingredients

Fast casual chain Panera Bread is the latest to take a big step towards healthier menu offerings. It has announced that by 2016, artificial additives will be removed from its menu including major ingredients on Naturally Savvy’s Scary Seven list, such as artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives.

“We believe simpler is better,” Scott Davis, chief concept officer said in a news release. “Panera is on a mission to help fix a broken food system. We have a long journey ahead, but we’re working closely with the nutrition community, industry experts, farmers, suppliers and others to make a difference."

Panera will be taking artificial colors out of its roast beef, maltodextrin and potassium lactate will be removed from the citrus pepper chicken, and horseradish will lose the calcium disodium EDTA. Trans-fats will be removed from the bakery menu items as well.

The announcement is the latest in a string of similar moves from competing fast food chain outlets. Subway recently announced it was removing azodicarbonamide from its bread. The controversial chemical is also found in shoes and yoga mats.

Chick-fil-A also made the announcement that it was cleaning up its menu by reducing ingredients including dyes, HFCS and antibiotics in its popular chicken sandwiches after Vani Hari, the blogger known as “Food Babe” pressured the chain.

And then there’s Chipotle-the poster chain for "healthy" fast food. While Chipotle has been on the clean meat and local produce angle for a while now, it recently made a big step in removing genetically modified ingredients from almost all of its menu items as well as adding vegan sofritos to its offerings.

50 Peculiar-Sounding Fake Ingredients Restaurants Put in Your Food

Most restaurants have way more than food on their menus. Look closely enough, and you&rsquoll also find fillers, preservatives, and a whole list of artificial and synthetic ingredients keeping your food pretty, tasty, and in some cases, potentially dangerous.

But luckily, more fast-food and fast-casual restaurants are moving away from impossible-to-pronounce and other &ldquowhat is that?!&rdquo ingredients. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are the latest to make the move, announcing that they are nixing artificial ingredients like Yellow 6 and &ldquoblack pepper flavor&rdquo from their kitchens. And in case you missed it, Subway, Panera, and Chipotle have also revamped their menus as of late, getting rid of weird ingredients, such as those that are also found in yoga mats and shoe soles.

Never heard of the stuff? Then you&rsquoll definitely be surprised to learn what else is lurking in your food. Check out these 50 crazy ingredients you probably have no idea you&rsquove been eating.



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