4 Fast Food Spots That Have Revamped Their Menus

Here is a look at fast-food restaurants that are modifying their menus to provide healthier fare.

With the demand for healthier fare, fast-food chains have been modifying — and in some cases totally revamping — their menus. Consumers want not only lower-calorie foods, but cleaner foods without artificial ingredients. According to Technomic’s 2014 The Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 58 percent of consumers agree that it’s important to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition. Forty percent of consumers were more concerned about food additives last year than two years ago, and more than half of the folks surveyed said they wanted restaurants to be more transparent about menu ingredients. Here’s a look at some of the changes you will be seeing at your favorite joints.

Panera Bread

Panera publicly committed to remove all artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners from its menu by the end of 2016. As of this fall, 90 percent of Panera’s ingredients met this commitment, and all of the others are in the test phase. Two of the newest ingredient reformulations are the ham and salad dressings. Instead of using traditional deli ham with about five curing agents, preservatives and binders, Panera now uses clean smoked ham, which contains cherry powder, celery powder and vinegar. And Panera has replaced traditional emulsifiers and artificial flavors in salad dressings with common emulsifiers, herbs, and spices including garlic, black pepper, parsley, rosemary or bay leaves.

Starbucks

This coffee joint started with all types of pastries, then began offering sandwiches, and now you can find a whole collection of healthy snacks and light meals in its Bistro Boxes. Selections include Cheese and Fruit, Edamame Hummus Wrap, PB&J on Wheat and Thai-Style Peanut Chicken Wrap.

Chipotle recently decided that genetically modified organisms don’t align with the restaurant's vision of providing the highest-quality ingredients and set a goal to eliminate GMO-containing foods from its menu. For example, Chipotle recently switched its fryer oils from soybean to sunflower oil. But there are some challenges to removing GMOs altogether, especially in the form of corn or soy. Additionally, most of the grain used as animal feed is genetically modified, including most of the grain used to feed the animals that supply Chipotle with its meat and dairy.

Subway has provided customers with low-calorie options for many years with its 6-inch sandwiches that contain fewer than 6 grams of fat. But consumers are demanding more than just lower-calorie foods. With recent media attention given to the “ yoga mat” ingredient added to its bread, Subway pledged to remove many artificial ingredients from its menu in the next year.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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