Panera Bread recently released a list of more than 150 unacceptable ingredients that it intends to remove from its production lines by the end of 2016. They call it their “No-No List.”
Panera Bread, one of the largest chains of bakery-cafes in the US, is making more of a marketing statement than a health-related one.
The list they released includes common ingredients, as well as various flavorings, preservatives, emulsifiers and other substances generally used by the food industry.
These ingredients have been selected together with nutritionists and deemed as unacceptable by Panera Bread. These ingredients have been banned from their food, but not their beverages.
Some of the ingredients on the list that you have heard about are not added in their prepared foods at all, such as lard, aspartame and sucralose (sweeteners), carmine (beetle-based colorant), theobromine (naturally occurring in cocoa) and many others.
The other ingredients on the list shouldn't be on a fresh-food menu in the first place. They are much more useful in the food industry, for ready meals and semi-prepared foods.
They help make the food appear consistent from batch to batch, they give it the same color and flavor and consistency over time and they improve the shelf life of the prepared foods.
Nutritionists that are not connected to the company are skeptical about this list of unacceptable ingredients, drawing attention to the fact that the real problem is not the additives that appear in small amounts.
The problem arises with the ingredients that are used in large proportions and are not kept under control. The main issues are the excessive amounts of sugar that used to be replaced by the non-nutritive sweeteners, the large amounts of hydrogenated oils that give cakes their flaky texture, the large amount of sodium and the high caloric count of each dish.
The argument of only eating food prepared with ingredients that you can pronounce is as immature as the one about making food healthier by removing tiny amounts of chemicals from the whole supply chain.
If you were to break down the most natural food you can imagine, there would be thousands of compounds that anyone would have a difficult time pronouncing - even those who have taken a chemistry class. Still, that does not make them inedible or bad for your health.
If you really want to eat healthy food, then stop going to fast-food restaurants, now also known as 'bakery-cafes,' and make your own meals. Buy the ingredients as fresh as possible and prepare them at home.
If you really must eat out, then choose the food based on its main ingredients and watch out for portion size and preparation methods.
Anything can be bad for you if you eat it in excess. Eat everything with moderation and you will live a healthy and fulfilling life.