Papa John’s Pizza Menu Says Arrivederci to Artificial Flavors and Colors

Papa John’s First Pizza Chain to Say Arrivederci to Artificial Flavors and Colors

The Papa John’s pizza menu will eliminate all artificial flavors and synthetic colors, the company announced Tuesday. The announcement, effective immediately, makes Papa John’s the first pizza chain to do so.

The change will apply to all pizza ingredients, pizza toppings, dessert items, and sauces. According to a Bloomberg article that analyzed the Papa John’s menu in June 2015, the majority of the artificial ingredients present in menu items were found in the dipping sauces proposed to accompany pizzas and poppers.

This announcement follows the pizza chain’s recent promise to opt for antibiotic-free chicken, a promise that is set to go into effect by summer 2016.

“We closed out 2015 announcing our commitment to serve chicken raised without antibiotics and are ringing in the New Year artificial-flavor and synthetic-color free,” Sean Muldoon, Papa John’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development, said in a press release. “We’re so proud to be able to show our customers how much we care about what they’re eating. This exemplifies Papa John’s continued efforts to deliver high-quality products. It’s the right thing to do.”

Papa John’s had already eliminated many artificial ingredients from its menu items, in accordance with its “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.” motto, including trans-fats, MSG, fillers in core meat toppings, BHA, BHT, and partially hydrogenated oils.

These eliminations were not without repercussions on taste, but when faced with a choice between familiar flavor and natural ingredients, the company opted for the latter.

“It’s hard to remove some of these things and still get the flavor and functionality you want,” “Papa” John Schnatter told Bloomberg. “We gave up flavor on the ranch dressing because I wanted to get the chemical out.”

Papa John’s joins the ranks of other chains who have committed to natural ingredients, including Panera, Subway, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Noodles and Co., all of which have made promises to remove some or all artificial ingredients from their menu items.

Papa John’s, which is based in Kentucky, is the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company.

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Pizza image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.