How do you like your Subway sandwich? If the answer is “6-inch roast beef with no additives,” you’re in luck.
Subway Restaurants announced Thursday it will eliminate artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from the menu over the next 18 months, joining the ranks of restaurants hoping to cash in on consumer demand for healthy food. Among the axed ingredients is the caramel coloring added to steak and pastrami.
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. Yet the build-your-own sandwich giant, which has the most restaurants of any fast-food chain worldwide, has lumbered behind smaller competitors like Taco Bell (YUM) and Panera Bread (PNRA), which also recently announced a nix on artificial ingredients.
Elizabeth Stewart, Subway’s director of corporate social responsibility, said converting Subway’s large supply chain to all-natural would require “significantly more effort” than smaller chains.
“But, we felt 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.
Though the privately held company behind the “Eat Fresh” slogan had lacked a formal stance on additives, Thursday’s announcement builds on the company’s previous efforts to evolve a healthy image.
Subway ratcheted up efforts to eliminate additives last year, after Internet activists slammed a chemical found in both Subway bread and yoga mats. After removing artificial transfat as early as 2008, the Connecticut company has since moved to all-natural roast beef and chicken.
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SOURCE: USA Today – Anita Balakrishnan