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Panera, the restaurant chain, is changing its ingredients. Responding to consumer demand here, Panera has posted what it calls a no-no list of more than a hundred artificial ingredients it will stop using. Here's NPR's Allison Aubrey.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: At a time when a growing number of Americans want to know more about the ingredients that go into their food, Panera Bread has learned that its customers are turned off by artificial ingredients. A promotional video in the company's website shows real customers trying to pronounce real additives.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: As-o-car-bona-mide (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Mide (ph)? Mead (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: No (laughter).
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Azocarbonamide (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: What are those? Are these ingredients?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: This is what's in food?
AUBREY: Azodicarbonamide is an additive that helps give bread a consistent texture, but you won't find it at Panera anymore. By the end of 2016, the company says its menu items will be free of more than 150 food additives, everything from artificial preservatives and colorings to emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners. Here's Panera's head chef, Dan Kish.
DAN KISH: We think a simplified pantry is a better pantry.
AUBREY: Kish says a good example is the decision to stop using mozzarella that was treated with a whitener, titanium dioxide. It's long been used in the industry for cosmetic reasons, to make mozzarella ultra-white. But Kish says the question they asked is this.
KISH: Do we have to have it? No. So let's just take it out.
AUBREY: Panera's announcement has been both applauded and criticized. Lisa Lefferts is a senior scientist with the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
LISA LEFFERTS: I think it makes sense to remove artificial colors and partially hydrogenated oils or trans-fat.
AUBREY: But the FDA has already moved to restrict trans-fats, and the entire food industry has made changes to cut back significantly. So on that particular ingredient, don't give Panera too much credit. And, Lefferts says, though Panera has put high fructose corn syrup and aspartame on its no-no list of food additives, these sweeteners will still be in beverages such as sodas and diet sodas sold at Panera, something she sees as a big gap in the company's new policy. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
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