Panera Bread shared progress on its commitment to remove artificial additives by publishing a 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-cafe food menus by the end of 2016.
"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 a transparent menu," said founder and CEO Ron Shaich.
"We are not scientists. We are people who know and love food, and who believe that the journey to better food starts with simpler ingredients. And to turn that belief into meaningful action, we consulted third-party scientists and experts to compile a list of common artificial additives that we are going to do without.
"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."
The artificial additives on the No No List will be removed across the Company's food menu, from bakery to soups to salads and sandwiches. The list also includes substances like high fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats. There are more than 150 ingredients that will be impacted.
For more than a year, Panera's culinary team has been working alongside trusted suppliers to "un-engineer" its food menu, removing the artificial additives that have become prevalent across the industry's supply chain. The project has meant ongoing recipe development and testing -- from finding replacements for artificial colors in pastries to removing commonly used artificial preservatives in soups. All of this work has been done with the standard of maintaining or improving taste.
Panera bakery-cafes nationwide will offer new "clean" salad dressings that are made without artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. And, many Panera salads, including the Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad and the new Kale Caesar, are made entirely without these artificial 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-cafe salad dressings without artificial additives. We believe they also taste better than ever."
To date, approximately 85 percent of the ingredients on Panera's bakery-cafe food menu are in test or have rolled out nationally without these artificial additives. Reworked items will continue to roll out steadily in advance of Panera's 2016 deadline. For more information on the No No List of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and other ingredients that have been or will be removed by the end of 2016, visit www.panerabread.com.
"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."
"We applaud Panera for its pledge 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. The company's previous commitment to sell meat and poultry raised without antibiotics helped establish it as an industry leader, and we look forward to working with them to carry out their additives policy," said Erik D. Olson, Director of the Health Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"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."
"Increased transparency related to the production and quality of ingredients used in our food supply is a positive step towards improving public health," said Robert Lawrence, MD, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. "We support the growing attention to ingredient quality and sustainability and are pleased by the steps Panera has taken to source its animal products from producers who do not misuse antibiotics."
"As a dietitian, I know that better nutrition helps deliver better health. But too often, better nutrition feels complicated, or not-accessible -- especially when navigating 'fast food' options. I applaud these efforts by Panera as it shows what can and should be available: better quality fast food -- everywhere," said Ashley Koff RD, founder of the Better Nutrition Simplified program