Subway Restaurants are removing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from menu items over the next two years, the company announced last week.
The company says it will be removing a number of controversial ingredients from its menu items, such as caramel coloring, which is found in some of its meat products.
Elizabeth Stewart, Subway's director of corporate social responsibility, said making the shift to an all-natural menu for a chain of its size would take "significantly more effort" than it does for smaller chains. Chipotle, for example, leads the fast food industry's efforts in clean menu items, but only has 1,700 locations to contend with. Subway restaurants total nearly 44,000 locations in 110 countries.
Despite the challenges in making changes on that scale, Subway said "it was important to set an ambitious goal as a means to give us something to shoot for and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to wellness," Stewart said in a company statement.
The fast food chain earned praise last year when it removed azodicarbonamide, a controversial ingredient that was used in its bread. That decision came as pressure from vocal blogger Vani Hari, better known as the Food Babe, along with her legion of supporters, pressured the company to remove the ingredient that’s also found in yoga mats.
In an email statement to Organic Authority, Environmental Working Group's president Ken Cook said his organization commends Subway for "giving Americans something they increasingly want: clean food," adding, "We also commend Subway for taking out artificial transfats, high-fructose corn syrup, and the notorious ‘yoga mat’ chemical ADA (azodicarbonimide) from its food, while also reducing the sodium content."
From the Organic Authority Files
“Healthy ingredients draw more customers, according to Nielsen studies, which found that more than 40% of consumers view labels like ‘all natural’, ‘no artificial colors’ and ‘no artificial flavors’ as very important when making purchasing decisions, reports USA Today.
A number of other fast food chains including Panera Bread, Taco Bell and even Pizza Hut recently announced plans to phase out controversial ingredients from their menus.
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