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Panera’s Promise to Sell Clean Kids’ Food Could Lead to Healthier Fast Food – Fast

Friday, August 12, 2016

Panera Bread’s Kids Meal Promise – a children’s menu free of artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners and colors – challenges the rest of the fast and fast-casual food industry to get serious about kids’ health. If it works, American kids and everybody else will win.  

“It’s crucial to instill a good relationship with food from an early age to give children important tools for a lifetime of healthy living,” EWG President Ken Cook said. “Panera’s call-to-action should encourage restaurants and food manufacturers to improve the options they offer children.”

In its announcement yesterday, Panera pledged to transform its offerings to: 

  • Clean food with no artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners and colors
  • No toys or cartoon characters
  • Wholesome, tasty choices
  • Healthy sides such as organic yogurt, sprouted grain rolls and apples
  • Water, organic milk and juice instead of soft drinks

Panera promises to put an end to famously unhealthy fast-food kids’ meals, for instance, salty chicken nuggets with a side of fries and a sugary soda. Some chains, such as McDonald’s, have greened up their menus with carrots or apples instead of fries, but not one have gone as far as Panera.

Last year, after consulting EWG’s research, Panera pledged to remove several artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors from its products by the end of this year. Panera’s latest move goes even further, promising kids’ fare that’s healthy from start to finish – plus, no toys and characters tempting kids to demand greasy, salty and empty calories.

To learn more about troublesome ingredients and the popular processed foods that may contain them, check out EWG’s Food Scores database.

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