Panera CEO announces: 'We're cleaning up our menu'
Panera Bread CEO and founder Ron Shaich is a parent, and that got him thinking about the ingredients in Panera Bread's food.
Shaich told Fortune, "My kids are eating Panera 10 to 11 times a week... I don't want to serve them junk."
That's why he's making it his mission to bring clean eating to the chain, which he plans to do by eliminating or reformulating nearly 168 ingredients of the 460 that currently make up the chain's menu.
It has already stopped serving antibiotic meat, has eliminated trans fats and lists calorie counts on all of its menus, but now the chain is moving toward removing additives like polydextrose and titanium dioxide. Which sounds like a good thing to me — what are those even?
Panera's first move is to reformulate its salad dressing. Beginning today, the chain's salad dressing will no longer contain artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. It basically had to start from the ground up in changing these recipes — it took the chain six months alone to reformulate its Greek salad dressing before it started testing it in the restaurant, which speaks to Panera's commitment to change.
"Consumers are looking for alternatives that are less processed... I would argue 'clean' tastes better, as well as it is better for you," Shaich said.
Fast-casual clean eating in a world of mystery meat and unpronounceable ingredients — sounds pretty metal to me.