Casual dining chain Panera Bread is axing 86 food additives from its menu slowly, promising a fully natural menu by 2016.
Panera’s artificial ingredient ban was part of a larger, comprehensive policy on food ingredients — including colorings, flavorings, preservatives, and other additives that tend to make customers in the millennial demographic antsy.
The move is expected to be complete in the latter part of that year, but with one notable exception; while foods at Panera will no longer be made with or include the list of ingredients considered additives by the chain, beverages are not part of the shift.
Panera Bread indicates that the chain is indeed even looking at a ban on high-fructose corn syrup — often abbreviated to HFCS — after the new menu changes have been carried out.
Ron Shaich, founder and CEO of Panera, says that he envisions the chain selling food he would want to eat. Of the demographic-specific concerns of young adults, Shaich says:
“Millennials understand that prevention is far better than reacting to a disease…”
Also discussing Panera’s new directions was Scott Davis, chief concept officer for the chain. In a statement, he explains:
“We believe simpler is better. 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.”
Which items can you expect to be chopped from Panera’s menu or at least replaced? According to the chain, the following ingredients fall afoul of its new standards for additive-free foods for the stated reasons:
– Deli smoked turkey: potassium lactate, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite and sodium diacetate.
– Horseradish: calcium disodium EDTA.
– Citrus Pepper Chicken: maltodextrin, potassium lactate.
– Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus: ascorbic acid and tocopherol, tara gum, carrageenan, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
– Summer corn chowder: tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, coconut oil derived from triglycerides, artificial flavors.
– Roast beef: caramel coloring.
Another report indicates that Panera’s sweeping policy — unlike that of rival casual dining chain Chipotle — won’t cover genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs.
The Associated Press explains:
“Panera also isn’t swearing off genetically modified ingredients, another issue that is gaining attention in certain circles. Unlike Chipotle, which says its menu will soon be free of GMOs, Panera uses too many different ingredients to be able to make that claim. And neither chain has any plans to stop selling fountain sodas from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, even though the drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.”
Panera’s menu changes have not fully been described, and consumers will still be waiting two years for the changes to be complete.
[Image: Panera Bread, CC]