Panera accelerates clean food movement; removes artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its soups

(NaturalNews) Last year, Panera announced its promise to ban artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors from its foods by the end of 2016. The popular food chain even made publicly available its “No-No” list, which details not only what unhealthy ingredients are being removed, but specifically which items on their menu they’re being removed from.

Thankfully, Panera isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.

The latest good food news to come from Panera is that its soups no longer have any artificial colors, preservatives or flavorings. Those typical ingredients found in commercial soups like soy and corn protein, sodium phosphate and maltodextrin? Gone, says the company. Another feather in their health-conscious cap is the fact that, according to the company, they’re the first national restaurant to provide such “clean” soups.(1)

‘All of our soups are catching up now,’ says Panera director

According to Sara Burnett, the director of wellness and food policy at Panera, “No matter which soup you dunk your spoon into, you’ll never slurp a single artificial preservative, sweetener, color or flavor.” She explains that while their All-Natural Turkey Chili and Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean have always been clean soups, the entire soup menu – from the Unami Broth in their broth bowls, to their Broccoli Cheddar – is clean. “All of our soups are catching up now,” Burnett says.

She explains that the company basically took a long, hard look at its soup ingredients and changed them for the better by asking themselves three key questions: Is an ingredient absolutely necessary for the taste and texture? Are there healthier alternatives, similar to what one might find in a home pantry? Is it too processed? After much taste-testing and analyzing based primarily on these questions, the soups were vastly improved.

For example, plain corn starch, much like what you may have at home, is used to thicken soups instead of modified corn starch. When it comes to flour, Panera nixed its bleached kind in favor of unbleached flour. Additionally, they now use natural flavors that come from the likes of chives and onions instead of relying on hydrolyzed soy and corn proteins. Considering that hydrolyzed soy protein is linked to weight fluctuations, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, that’s a wise move. Furthermore, bleached flour is heavily processed and severely nutrient-deficient. It’s been associated with cancer, constipation and diabetes. So, kudos to Panera for being so cognizant of consumer health and more so, for taking action instead of merely talking about it.(2,3,4)

Food transparency large part of Panera’s clean food movement

Panera has likened their initiative to a kind of “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,” in which its ingredients and related efforts reflect utmost quality. When their effort to rid the likes of preservatives and additives from their menu was announced last year, Panera’s CEO Ron Shaich said, “This is truly the first, real salvo in the effort for food transparency. 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.”(5)

Before the recent news about their clean soups, the restaurant had already removed ingredients like propylene glycol alginate and a generic spice blend that was used in their Greek salad dressing. They also omitted the titanium dioxide that used to reside in their tomato mozzarella flatbread, as well as the cellulose gel that existed in their poppy seed dressing, to name just a few significant changes.(5)

Panera’s healthy initiatives well-received by public

Reaction to Panera’s clean food movement regarding their soups – and overall health initiatives – has been extremely favorable.

On Twitter, the company (@panerabread) proudly boasts that “The world’s most talked about soup just got even more talked about,” undoubtedly a reference to their latest news. In reaction to their healthier soups, HuffPost Lifestyle (@HPLifestyle) tweeted that “Panera Bread’s soups are ‘cleaner’ than Progresso’s and Campbell’s,” while others on Twitter mentioned how their soups are a source of happiness or that they’re so tasty, they could live off them.(6,7)

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