Panera Bread To Publish 'No-No List' In Latest Push Towards Healthier Menu

Dana Shemesh

Restaurant chain Panera Bread has announced their plans to remove a list of some 150 artificial ingredients from their menus nationwide by the end of 2016.

Panera's "No-No List" is said to include artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, and thickeners. The list is said to be based on research of healthy foods and condiments conducted by Johns Hopkins, the Environmental Working Group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"We're trying to draw a line in the sand in the industry so that consumers have an easy way to know what's in the food they buy," said Ron Shaich, chief executive of Panera said in an interview with The New York Times.

Panera Bread is one of the first national restaurant chains who plans to publicly post a list of all the artificial additives it has already and has yet to remove from its menu, according to a report in USA Today.

The company's evolving menu follows suit in a nationwide trend of food companies and restaurants, which reflect customers increasing demands for purity in the foods they consume. Panera executives say their goal is to retain their loyal customers who are increasingly seeking greater transparency in the labels they consume.

In addition to Panera, Kraft recently announced plans to replace artificial coloring with natural spices turmeric and paprika, so their Macaroni and Cheese retains its signature orange hue.

Soft Drink giant PepsiCo also say they plan to replace artificial sweetener aspartame with sucralose for their diet drinks.

Last week, Tyson Foods announced plans to gradually eliminate the use of antibiotics in their poultry production.

Panera currently uses more than 450 ingredients to prepare its signature sandwiches, soups, salads, and baked goods.

Ridding Panera's menu of artificial ingredients such as titanium dioxide – currently an ingredient in Panera's mozzarella cheese – may slightly affect the food presentation, although Panera's quality will never be compromised, according to Panera executives.

Panera's well-known salad dressings are items high on the list for an additive-free makeover, namely their Greek salad dressing, which will be reformulated to a more basic combination of ingredients.

While nutritionists applaud Panera's shift towards transparency and ultimately healthier ingredients – customers should still take note of the high calorie count of many items on Panera's menu.

Would you like to see more of your favorite restaurants follow Panera's plan to create a "No-No List" and ultimately rid their menu of artificial ingredients?

[Image courtesy of: Boomerang Dining]