Image courtesy of Panera Bread
Yesterday, Panera Bread announced its new approach to a children’s menu by offering almost any item on the Panera menu as a smaller sized entree, creating more than 250 clean label combinations.

This follows an August 2016 promise from the company to apply its health commitment to kids meals. It was meant as not only a challenge to Panera, but also to the rest of the foodservice industry.

As part of this promise, Panera commits to these five tenets:

  • Clean – No artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or colors from artificial sources in any menu item.
  • No marketing gimmicks – No cartoon characters, crazy colors, toys, or toy-shaped food.
  • Real options – Let kids make their own choices from a menu full of wholesome options.
  • Nutritiously paired – No fries or onion rings for sides, instead opting for organic yogurt, sprouted grain rolls, apples, or no side at all.
  • No sugar-laden drinks – Kids meals won’t include a sugary drink.

“For too long, restaurants in America have served menus full of nutritionally empty chicken nuggets, pizza and fries, paired with sugary drinks and cheap toys,” says Panera founder, Chairman, and CEO Ron Shaich. “We believe kids must come first.  As a parent, I’m proud that I could eat off the Panera kids menu and still enjoy delicious and wholesome meals.  I’m challenging the CEOs of some of the largest companies in the industry—McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s—to personally eat exclusively from their restaurants’ kids meals for an entire week—and if not, to take a thoughtful look at what they are offering our smallest guests.”