Panera announced this week that it will remove 150 ingredients from its “No-No List” by the end of 2016, including artificial additives, preservatives, and flavor enhancers.
But don’t be surprised if you get a mozzarella panini and find the cheese has gone brown.
“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,” company CEO Ron Shaich said in a phone interview with USA Today.
“This is truly the first, real salvo in the effort for food transparency.” The process of removing all the artificial additives from Panera food hasn’t been easy, Shaich said.
“This is really hard when you have 465 different ingredients.
But I want to serve food that’s clean,” he said.
“I want to serve food that I feel good about my daughters eating.” One of the ingredients on Panera’s “No-No list” is titanium dioxide, which keeps food like ice cream and icing white.
The ingredient is used in Panera’s mozzarella – unfortunately, cheese browns as it ages.
“We don’t know how customers will react,” Sara Burnett, senior quality assurance manager at Panera told the New York Times.
While Panera is following the example of other food companies like Nestle, Hershey, and Kraft by getting rid of their artificial ingredients, don’t be surprised if food at Panera looks and tastes a little different as these changes start to take place.
“Panera is setting a high bar,” Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University, told USA Today.
“These are all ingredients used in highly processed foods to make them look, taste, and hold together better – for the most part, cosmetics” As USA Today notes, these changes show a trend of consumers are turning away from products that contain artificial ingredients.
More than 60% of consumers in a recent survey by marketing firm Nielsen said the absence of artificial colors or flavors is important to their food purchase decisions.