Panera Bread

Panera Bread's bacon turkey bravo sandwich comes with smoked turkey, bacon, Gouda cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and signature spread. The company announced it will drop all additives from its menu items. (Raul Roa / Glendale News Press / October 14, 2009)

Panera Bread, the fast casual restaurant chain known for its sandwiches and baked goods, announced today that it will remove artificial additives from its products by 2016. 

The move is part of a growing trend of restaurants looking to cut questionable ingredients. Subway recently removed the chemical azodicarbonamide -- found in yoga mats -- from its bread.

The St. Louis-based Panera's new food policy includes eliminating all artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives.

Panera was one of the first chains to post calorie counts on its menus, and, like Chipotle, made a commitment to purchasing antibiotic-free chicken. 

“We believe simpler is better,” Scott Davis, chief concept officer said in a news release. “Panera is on a mission to help fix a broken food system. We have a long journey ahead, but we’re working closely with the nutrition community, industry experts, farmers, suppliers and others to make a difference."

Some of the Panera products being shed of artificial ingredients include the roast beef, which contains caramel color; the citrus pepper chicken, which has maltodextrin and potassium lactate; and horseradish, which contains calcium disodium EDTA. The roast beef will be replaced with sirloin steak seasoned with just oil, salt and spices. 

Panera also announced it is removing artificial trans-fats from its standard bakery-cafe menu.