Panera changing ingredients to be more “healthy”

Panera is the latest company to declare they are going to make their food sound healthier. While they portray it terms of simplicity and customer demands, really, it’s a marketing gimmick and may end up disappointing the consumer.

Panera CEO says ‘no’ to unacceptable ingredients – Fortune

The restaurant chain is doing away with or reformulating dozens of ingredients as its tries to make its food healthier.

When Panera Bread founder and CEO Ron Shaich considers the foods featured on the bakery-cafe’s menu, he pictures serving them to his 11-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son.

“My kids are eating Panera 10 to 11 times a week,” Shaich tells Fortune. “I don’t want to serve them junk.”

That explains why Shaich has been on a personal, decades-long mission to bring healthier and “clean” ingredients into Panera’s chain restaurants while also advocating better transparency about that ongoing process.

No one should be eating at the same fast food place 10-11 times a week. Good food choices start at home and it seems to be totally missing in the average American household. Panera as health food? Hardly.

Note that the beverages such as sodas still contain a ton of sugar and artificial flavors. Are customers going to give that up? How about those empty-calorie-filled scones, cookies and pastries? I can pronounce “sugar” just fine but that doesn’t make it healthy.

Let me have one of the cranberry-orange scones.

Let me have one of the cranberry-orange scones.

Will this change make the food taste better or be more of a value? I doubt it.

There is no harm in moving to better quality ingredients. But does it not make all that much scientific sense in this bandwagon context. Orac thinks the ploy is just caving to irrational requests and sounds exactly like the goofy Food Babe rants. It’s a mistake to cater to anti-science advocates. Of course, Vani Hari is happy about this: “This is the direct result of the ongoing pressure you and the Food Babe Army have put on companies to serve safer and more healthful ingredients. Thank you!” Is it safer? You can’t say that. Is it more healthful? You really can’t support that either! Great – let’s let nonsense rule, that will work out well.

If the Food Babe Army represents average Americans, we so ignorant about how food gets to our plates (no surprise) and clueless about chemistry that we easily fall for these PR stunts, wasting time and money seeking hollow, self-righteous solutions that make little sense.

The Food Babe? More like the Fool Babe.

Food Babe clueless about food, science, and apparently, air

  12 comments for “Panera changing ingredients to be more “healthy”

  1. MisterNeutron
    May 6, 2015 at 1:54 PM

    I’m eagerly waiting to see how Panera does gluten-free.

  2. DestroyerOfFun
    May 6, 2015 at 3:43 PM

    Speaking of gluten, since it’s “all-natural” how can it be the scourge so many people make it out to be? (You know, the ones who blatantly ignore the doctors who continue to point out that, while celiac disease is horrible and people with it should avoid gluten, there’s no real support for a “gluten sensitivity” among others that everyone suddenly seems to have developed once they thought it was a thing…)

  3. ChristineRose
    May 6, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    I’ve been told more than once that gluten is a GMO thing. I feel compelled to tell them that there are no GMO wheats approved for sale. They argue with me.

  4. May 6, 2015 at 7:30 PM

    Gluten a GMO thing? That is so ignorant… It’s a perfectly natural protein.

  5. Phil
    May 6, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    They serve coffee. That’s a poison in large doses. Sugar give you diabetes. Cheese ….etc etc . Give me a break.

  6. Rook
    May 6, 2015 at 11:44 PM

    I guess Panera must be struggling to stay profitable right now. If business was going well, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to reinvent their image.

  7. BobM
    May 7, 2015 at 1:42 AM

    Sounds like a purely commercial decision, which they think will make the money. If it does – well that’s what they’re there for. If not they’ll either revert or go broke. I guess that’s capitalism.

  8. Adam
    May 7, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    I’d be delighted if they did gluten free since my kids are coeliac and holiday in the US from time to time. Of course how they prepare and display it is far more important than tossing a GF item on the menu. Sweet Tomatoes offer GF food items and I’ve see it stacked right beside the normal items with shared tongs and huge potential for contamination.

  9. One Eyed Jack
    May 7, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    Sugar DOES NOT give you diabetes. Excessive sugar in your diet increases your chances of contracting diabetes, but obesity and genetic predisposition are the primary factors.

    Sugar in reasonable amounts is completely harmless.

  10. Russian Skeptic
    May 7, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    This obsession with ‘healthiness’ is definitely insanity. If you really want to be healthy, eat carrots and not cakes. However, you will die one day in any case. So does it matter at all, in fact?
    I guess that health is promoted as moral virtue because healthier people consume more and buy more expensive goods.

  11. Russian Skeptic
    May 7, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Indeed, because we, like many animals, have evolved to get energy from sugar. However, if a person has a risk of diabetes, even starch is to be avoided. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder (not necessarily found in obese people, lean ones can have it too). It certainly can be triggered by imbalanced diet, say, by eating three chocolate bars a day.

  12. One eyed Jack
    May 9, 2015 at 7:57 PM

    You can’t make true bread without gluten. Gluten is the glue that allows bread to expand as gas is produced and then hold its shape after baking.

    You can make something that approximates bread, but recipes will inevitably use things like xanthan gum. Although xanthan gum is a completely safe polysaccharide, it falls under the “scary words that are hard to pronounce, so it must be bad for you” umbrella. That and the fact that it is the product of a bacterial fermentation give it two strikes.

    Good luck with that, Panera.

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