Popular fast food chains are on a mission to make Americans healthier, one ingredient at a time. Although consumers are constantly on the move and want their food fast, they want real food—food made of wholesome ingredients that people can actually pronounce. John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University told The Guardian, “companies are realizing some ingredients may not be worth their potential harm, given changing attitudes about additives.”
According to Bloomberg Business, the pizza franchise is spending $100 million a year to eliminate artificial ingredients and additives from their menu. So far, they’ve removed “cellulose from the mozzarella cheese, fillers from the sausage, MSG from the ranch dressing, and trans fats from the garlic sauce,” according to TIME. Fourteen ingredients in total will be removed by the end of 2016.
If you wouldn’t want your son or daughter eating at your restaurant, that’s a pretty good sign that something’s off. Fortunately, Panera Bread’s founder and CEO, Ron Shaich, took this into consideration when remodeling the menu. Shaich told Fortune, “My kids are eating Panera 10 to 11 times a week. I don’t want to serve them junk.” Shaich may have been one of the first CEOs on this mission to serve better ingredients, when he began using chicken raised without the use of antibiotics more than a decade ago. “The company also drew lines in the sand on trans fats, listed calorie information on all menus and, more recently, began to remove artificial additives.”
Taco Bell is one of the most popular fast food chains in America, with items such as the Doritos Locos Tacos and its array of breakfast items. It’s evident they aren’t the healthiest option, but it’s also clear that they’ve jumped on the healthier bandwagon. According to The Guardian, they’re getting rid of artificial colors and flavors. Below are some of the things they plan to remove by the end of the year:
-Black pepper flavor
-Yellow No 6 (nacho cheese)
-Blue No 1 (avocado ranch dressing)
-Carmine (red tortilla strips)
Subway is one of the healthier options in the fast food industry, priding themselves on quality ingredients and fresh-baked bread. They’ve made a commitment to remove all artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from all their sandwiches, salads, cookies, and soups in North America by 2017, according to TIME. So far, they’ve taken out artificial trans fat, high fructose corn syrup, 30 percent of the sodium in the sandwiches, and Azodicarbonamide in the bread. Yeah, we had no idea what that last ingredient was either. According to the FDA, it’s a “chemical substance approved for use as a whitening agent in cereal flour and as a dough conditioner in bread baking.” No bueno.
There’s a reason why Chipotle is always packed and the lines run out the door once it turns 12 pm. Since they opened in 1993, the company says they’ve been commited to finding the best ingredients, respecting animals, farmers, and the environment. They’ve gone even further by removing genetically modified ingredients from their food, “becoming the first major restaurant chain to do so,” per The Wall Street Journal.