Panera Bread is the first major restaurant chain to offer information about the amount of added sugar in the beverages it sells. This announcement comes a month before the federal regulation that compels chain restaurants to do so goes into effect.
This effort is intended to help people make more informed choices at the restaurant chain, particularly because sodas are among the top sources of added sugar in the American diet, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
One 20-ounce serving of Dr. Pepper, for example, contains 64 grams of added sugar – 14 more grams than the federal government recommends people consume in a whole day.
“We’re going to help you understand that you can have a soft drink, but please know that when you drink it, you may be drinking well in excess of the federal government’s daily recommended allowance of sugar,” Ron Shaich, the founder and chief executive of Panera, told the New York Times.
This information should make it easier for customers to make healthier decisions when purchasing food and drink items. For example, there is less sugar added to a Panera Bread chocolate chip cookie than in a soda.
“People should think of a soda as a cookie and make the same choice about drinking it as they would about eating a cookie,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a food advocacy group.
Panera has reformulated two of its proprietary drinks to reduce their sugar content by approximately 40 percent and is labeling its drinks “fully sweetened” ; “medium sweetened” ; “lightly sweetened” ; and “unsweetened” to help consumers see at a glance which are the better decisions.
Panera already stripped its menu of artificial sweeteners and preservatives in 2014.
Soda sales continue to fall in the U.S; in 2016, they dropped for the 11th consecutive year.
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