Fast-casual chain Panera is adopting a zero-tolerance approach to artificial ingredients as part of its new food policy, effective very soon. By 2016, customers can expect a “transparent” menu with “clean” ingredients that they “don’t need a dictionary to understand,” which also happen to be the things CEO Ron Saich “wants to eat.” As such, the roast beef will soon lose its caramel coloring, and tocopherol will be taken out of the cilantro-jalapeño hummus.
The company, among the first to go (mostly) antibiotics- and trans-fat-free, hopes this will drum up its appeal with the cool kids, a.k.a. millennials, which explains why there’s so much talk about “a long journey” and fixing our “broken” food system. In recent months, chains like Chick-fil-A and Subway have made moves to scrub esoteric-sounding additives from their menu boards in attempts to convince consumers that the fast-food industry is responding to widespread criticism of the industry, even as the restaurants continue to serve items made with large amounts of sugar and salt, which pundits say are the more problematic ingredients.