Originally published May 5 2015
Panera bans over 150 additives from its food
by Jennifer Lilley
(NaturalNews) As more people are becoming aware of the foods they eat and demanding more high-quality, healthy ingredients, restaurant chains are taking note and following suit. Among them is Panera, the most recent food outlet to get on board the good health train.
Panera announced that they will be removing all artificial additives from their food by the end of 2016; in fact, they've already made some serious headway in getting rid of certain ingredients in many of their meals. Panera has even created a "No-No" list[PDF] on which people can view approximately 150 artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors the restaurant chain is in the process of removing.
For example, the hydrogenated soy protein, propylene glycol alginate, maltodextrin and the generic spice blend that's been in their Greek salad dressing? Gone. The cellulose gel and artificial flavors in Panera's poppyseed dressing? Also gone. The list goes on, ranging from the modified corn starch that was in their chicken soup to the titanium dioxide found in their tomato mozzarella flatbread.
Panera CEO: "I want to serve everyone the food I want my daughter to eat"Acesulfame K, Azodicarbonamide (yes, that's the chemical Vani Hari, also known as the "Food Babe," fought to have removed from Subway sandwich bread, noting that the ingredient is similar to what's found in yoga mats), and added nitrates are also a part of this long "No-No" list.
"This is like our own 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval' that says: This is a transparent list of ingredients you won't find at Panera," says company CEO Ron Shaich. "This is truly the first, real salvo in the effort for food transparency." He also stated, "I want to serve everyone the food I want my daughter to eat. And if I feel uncomfortable about serving her some of this stuff, I don't want anyone else to eat it."
While the news has most health advocates pleased, some have raised concerns over Panera's change. One such person is Mike Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Although he is glad to hear that Panera is removing the likes of artificial dyes and other harmful ingredients, he suggests that there's more to this announcement than just good health.
Panera is "setting a high bar" "Panera is setting a high bar," says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University. "These are all ingredients used in highly processed foods to make them look, taste, and hold together better -- for the most part, cosmetics."
Panera's web site exudes their commitment to providing people with healthy food choices. Their food policy is evident in their phrase, "Food You Can Trust." Their site also says, "Panera Bread began with a simple commitment: to bake fresh bread from fresh dough each day in our bakery-cafes. That single, powerful commitment set the stage for a series of conscious, challenging decisions that have essentially made Panera what it is today."
Panera's decision follows in the footsteps of many other food chains and companies dedicated to the improved health of their customers. Chipotle, for example, made headlines when they announced they were entirely GMO-free. Kraft has come forward to say they plan to remove artificial dyes from their macaroni and cheese, and PepsiCo announced plans to remove aspartame from Diet Pepsi.
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