Panera makes good on “cleaner food” promise, dumps all synthetic food additives
02/19/2017 // Howard Roark // Views

In a pacesetting move for its industry, Panera Bread made a promise some time ago to eliminate all artificial ingredients from food items at its restaurants. Now, after considerable effort, they have made good on that pledge.

CS Monitor reports that 122 ingredients have been reformulated by Panera, and they have partnered with over 300 vendors to design new products in this groundbreaking move. All artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives have been removed from both their restaurant menu and take-home foods.

Panera's founder and CEO, Ron Shaich, said in an interview, “Good food costs more, but we think consumers get it.” With respect to commitment to menu transparency, he added, “Guests deserve to know not only what is in their food, but where it comes from, and how companies are impacting the food system.”

This is great news for the fast food eating public, because Panera now has drive-thrus. Panera has raised the bar on quality, and hopefully more restaurants will be quick to follow. (RELATED: Follow more news about the fast food industry at

Panera sees that eventuality as a win-win situation, and Shaich is willing to help other chains to improve their menus. “We are happy to work with any of our friends, and they are often friends, others in the industry. This is good stuff for everybody and we are doing this because it’s good for guests. It’s a better way to eat.” The Panera Bread website states, “We are advocates for clean food. We’re committed to sourcing and serving high-quality ingredients without artificial additives including added MSG, artificial trans fats, and ingredients we don’t believe need to be in your food.” (RELATED: See more on healthy food at


Panera publishes an impressive "No No List" of close to 100 harmful additives that they are committed to keeping out of the food they sell. These substances are common in typical diets, and include propylene glycol (antifreeze), F, D and C colors (carcinogens), aspartame (carcinogen), MSG (neurotoxin), benzoic acid (combines with vitamin C to form benzene, a carcinogen) and so on. Panera's Food Policy Statement specifies their commitment to “positive impacts” that are the hallmarks of an ethical company:

  • Buying livestock that is raised in a stress-reduced environment and fed a vegetarian-based antibiotic-free diet
  • Sourcing from North American farmers when feasible
  • Sourcing sustainable and wild-caught fish
  • Striving for seed-to-plate source traceability
  • Working with hunger relief organizations
  • Recycling waste in 87 percent of company-owned locations
  • Investing in pay-what-you-can cafes
  • Calling on leading experts, suppliers and NGOs to source palm oil in a way that least impacts the environment

Panera's zero tolerance for toxic ingredients is not an insignificant thing, and is worthy of emphasis. Our food has become so severely laden with ingredients that are poisoning us, that eating clean food should be the very starting point on the journey towards good health and healing.

Vani Hari, a crusader for food justice with the website, exposes the harmful food we eat. She shows how pressure applied to food industry giants can really work to get them to remove bad ingredients. Her efforts are effective because the Big Food corporations understand that their bottom line will be negatively impacted if they don't make positive changes. And Vani is a living testament to how changing one's diet can reverse life-threatening illnesses.

Life is like that; when we are confronted with awful news from the world around us, and when dealing with serious life challenges, there always remains hope for a better life and a better world.


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