Panera Bread Co. next week will introduce new non-carbonated craft beverages made with no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, flavors or colors from artificial sources, the company said Friday.
The St. Louis., Mo.-based bakery-café chain will roll out the new teas, lemonades and frescas to select cities on April 5 along with signage posting the calories and added sugar in each beverage.
Ron Shaich, Panera CEO, in a letter published in Friday’s Washington Post, urged the beverage and restaurant industries to provide increased menu transparency.
“With up to 75 grams of sugar, just one 20-ounce soft drink contains more than the recommended daily amount of added sugar,” Shaich said. “While we won’t tell people what they should drink, we want to provide real options and real transparency, and we’re challenging the industry to join us.”
The new line of non-carbonated teas, lemonades and frescas will be available nationwide in September, Panera said in a news release.
The new beverages include: iced black tea and plum-ginger-hibiscus tea with no added sugar; prickly pear-hibiscus fresca with fruit juice; and passion-papaya green tea, blood orange lemonade and agave lemonade with 35 grams of added sugar per 20-ounce cup.
Panera was among the first chain restaurants to display calorie information, adding the data to menu boards in 2010. Currently, restaurants with 20 or more locations will need to comply by May 5 with menu labeling requirements mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
“We believe people deserve to know exactly what’s in their drink so they can make the best choice for their lifestyle,” said Sara Burnett, Panera’s director of wellness, in a statement. “We know more and more guests are looking to reduce their added sugar consumption.”
In 2015, Panera announced its “No No List” of ingredients that targeted removal of artificial colors, flavors, additives and sweeteners by 2016.
As of Dec. 27, Panera had 2,036 bakery-cafes in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada. The units operate under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe names.
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