Panera Bread is dropping artificial coloring, flavoring, sweeteners and preservatives from its bread, including one chemical that helps keep yoga mats soft. But it will take until the end of 2016 to achieve what its press release describes as its “commitment to clean ingredients”.
Panera already has dropped artificial trans-fats from its menu items, serves gluten free menu choices, buys chicken raised without antibiotics, and post calories on menu boards, which is more than some fast food chains have done.
Recently, the Subway sandwich chain announced it was removing a chemical also found in yoga mats and rubber soled shoes from all its breads, and completed the task within weeks of the announcement, so I have to wonder why it will take Panera two years to do something that Subway did in two weeks.
The ingredient azodicarbonamide is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner. Since it increases elasticity, it is also used to help keep yoga mats and shoe rubber pliable.
According to USA Today, the so-called “yoga mat” chemical is in a wide variety of products, including those served at McDonald’s and Starbucks and in many breads sold in supermarkets.
Something else you probably didn’t know: Panera Bread has something called a Chief Concept Officer, Scott Davis. He’s quoted in the Panera Bread press release, saying, “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. We’re pleased to publicly share our framework and intend to share progress over time.”
Good to know.
Getting artificial ingredients out of popular food items is an important and growing movement, but it’s not a new one.
I remember covering a story as a consumer reporter for ABC News back in the late 1970s when Beech-Nut Baby Foods made headlines with the announcement it was removing artificial coloring and flavoring and added sugar and salt from baby food. It was a revolutionary enough idea that the New York Times dubbed CEO Frank Nicholas “Mr. Natural”, and profiled him. Here’s the link to that 1977 article.