June 4, 2014
Panera Bread Announces It Will Have ‘All Natural’ Offerings By 2016
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
On Tuesday, Panera Bread became the latest food service chain to move toward a more ‘natural’ menu by announcing that it would be removing artificial additives from its offerings by 2016.
“We believe simpler is better,” said Panera executive Scott Davis, 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 said the change would effectively eliminate any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives in the food items it sells. The move from the bakery-themed restaurant chain comes after Subway recently announced it would eliminate the chemical azodicarbonamide, which can be found in yoga mats, from its bread.
Panera does have a history of choosing natural ingredients over artificial ones as the chain was the first to use only chicken raised without the use of antibiotics. The company was also one of the first to post in-store calorie counts next to its menu items.
"Panera's forward-looking policy on antibiotics has made it an industry leader,” said Erik Olson, a strategic director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The company has been purchasing chicken raised without antibiotics for more than a decade – and over the years expanded to roasted turkey, ham, and sausage. We support their newest commitment to remove artificial additives. We look forward to working with them to ensure all their ingredients are essential and safe."
Items on Panera’s menu that will be changed include roast beef, which contains caramel color, and horseradish, which contains calcium disodium EDTA. Roast beef will be replaced by naturally seasoned sirloin steak.
In an interview with USA Today, Panera founder Ron Shaich admitted his company’s move is partly motivated by the desire to appeal to Millennials.
“Millennials understand that prevention is far better than reacting to a disease" Shaich said, adding, "I want to serve food that I want to eat.”
In addition to removing artificial additives from Panera’s existing products, the company will hold the vast majority of its new products to the same standard, Shaich told USA Today. He said a big difficulty moving forward will be convincing Panera’s suppliers to conform to the company’s stated goals.
“We have to go to our vendors, and they have to go to their vendors," Shaich said.
In addition to removing artificial ingredients from its menu, Panera also made a commitment to transparency – saying that it wanted to “empower” its guests to make informed choices. The company also said it is “committed to making a positive impact on our food system.”
“We believe guests deserve to know not only what is in their food, but where it comes from and how companies are impacting the food system,” Panera said.
While Panera is eliminating artificial ingredients, it won’t be turning away from genetically-modified ingredients – unlike its competitor Chipotle. Panera told the Associated Press that it uses too many ingredients to state that claim.