Panera Bread Saying ‘Bye-Bye’ to Artificial Ingredients

Panera BreadPanera Bread shared progress on meeting its commitment to remove certain ingredients. The company’s “No No List” is bans more than 150 ingredients, including artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. The artificial ingredients will be removed its U.S. Panera Bread and St. Louis Bread Co. menus by 2016.

Panera is the first national restaurant company in the country to publicly share its list of ingredients slated to be removed. Back in June, the company released its food policy. It did so in order to be held “accountable to long-held values and set the future vision for our menu,” said founder and CEO Ron Shaich in a statement. The No No LIst is the company’s “latest step on our journey to clean food and a transparent menu.”

In a short video, Shaich described the food policy as a “codification of what we’ve been working on for the better part of two decades.”

Panera has been working with its culinary team to remove artificial ingredients from its menu. It’s a project that has required development and testing to find suitable replacements. As of May 1, Panera started offering salad dressings free of artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. Many of the company’s salads are already made without artificial additives. About 85 percent of the ingredients on its bakery-cafe menus are either in test or already are free of artificial ingredients.

Why consumers want and need food without artificial ingredients

Back in February, Nestle USA announced its commitment to remove artificial flavors and colors from all of its chocolate, totaling more than 250 products, by the end of this year. Through research, Nestle USA found that U.S. consumers prefer candy brands to be free of artificial flavors and colors. Nielsen’s 2014 Global Health and Wellness Survey showed that 60 percent of respondents said they wanted to purchase food free of artificial colors or flavors.

Studies have linked artificial colors to hyperactivity in children, including a 2012 meta-analysis of studies on artificial colors — which found that artificial colors affect hyperactive children. A Center for Science in the Public Interest report on artificial colors found they are linked to more than just hyperactivity: Certain colors were linked to tumors and cancer in animals.

Giving consumers what they want is a smart thing for any business. Hopefully, Panera and Nestle will start a new trend where companies re-think the ingredients in their food products, making them healthier.

Image credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.