Panera Bread Pledges Cleaner Ingredients, Menu Transparency And Fewer Additives

Those looking for a fast food alternative to salty fried goodness may have already been making regular visits to Panera Bread. Whether it's to pick up some coffee or a delicious pastry, or to try one of their soups, salads and sandwiches, the establishment has plenty of options. And some of these options aren't nearly as unhealthy as some of the other fast food chain offerings. It looks like Panera is looking to take that a step further by making efforts to remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from their food by 2016. "Clean" ingredients and more menu transparency are among the chain's priorities.

Panera Bread Co. (opens in new tab) announced a "comprehensive set of commitments around food" today, which emphasize clean ingredients, a transparent menu and a positive impact. Here are those key points in their words:

- Clean Ingredients: 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.-Transparent Menu: Our menu is diverse. We’re committed to transparency to empower guests to choose how they want to eat.- Positive Impact: We are committed to making a positive impact on our food system. We believe guests deserve to know not only what is in their food, but where it comes from and how companies are impacting the food system.

Panera has also announced that they intend to remove artificial additives (colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives) from their bakery-cafe food menu by the end of 2016. It'll be interesting to see how doing that affects their food.

Ideally, this plan to take their food to a healthier level would be a win-win situation for everyone. Panera is already a healthier option for fast food, and this would allow the company to market themselves even more openly in that respect. And those of us looking to avoid having to actually cook something or deal with what's going on inside our refrigerators can feel a bit less guilty about the fast food option.

On a personal note -- as if I didn't just admit I prefer take-out to cooking -- I've been extremely pleased with the gluten free options at Panera. For a place that specializes in bread and pastries, they have quite a few tasty gluten free menu items -- mostly salads, but they're good salads! And other fast food restaurants aren't nearly as accommodating for those trying to avoid wheat. So Panera already scored points with me there. Their efforts to go even simpler with their ingredients should hopefully set the standard even higher for fast food restaurants.

Kelly West
Assistant Managing Editor

Kelly joined CinemaBlend as a freelance TV news writer in 2006 and went on to serve as the site’s TV Editor before moving over to other roles on the site. At present, she’s an Assistant Managing Editor who spends much of her time brainstorming and editing feature content on the site.