Panera Bread just made everyone at FoodFacts.com happier than we’ve ever been about fast casual dining. They’ve committed to the removal of over 150 controversial ingredients from their menu items by 2016.
We’ve been saying the same thing over and over, every time a fast food or fast casual chain commits to using antibiotic-free chicken, or the removal of a single ingredient due to consumer demand. It’s nice, but just one thing isn’t going to change the perception of an increasingly health-conscious consumer. It has to be bigger than that.
Panera Bread got the real message and they’re doing something about it.
Last week the chain began using only “clean” salad dressings — dressings free from artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. That’s already great news, but it’s much bigger than that. The list of ingredients slated for removal could come directly from the FoodFacts.com controversial ingredient list. You can find the full list here: https://www.panerabread.com/panerabread/documents/panera-no-no-list-05-2015.pdf.
Among the real standouts for us are the removal of aspartame, artificial colors, artificial flavors, caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and propylene glycol from their foods. The list goes on though and you should really check it out.
This is a stunning move by Panera Bread and one that challenges every other fast casual and fast food chain. If Panera Bread can find a way to remove just about every ingredient we want to avoid from their menu (we don’t see natural flavor and carrageenan on their list), it’s really impossible to imagine that other chains can’t accomplish the same thing while still offering food that’s appealing and affordable to their consumers.
With this statement, Panera Bread proves that no chain has an excuse. It’s time for the rest of the fast casual and fast food giants to follow their lead.