ST. LOUIS – Panera Bread started with one menu item containing antibiotic-free chicken, and now the national chain boasts 23 offerings added over the last 10 years. The company now says it is exploring alternatives for beef and pork.

In 2004, Panera introduced antibiotic-free chicken as an ingredient in its Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. After 10 years of working farmers, suppliers and industry experts, the company offers 23 items that feature proteins produced without antibiotics.

“When we began to serve meat raised without antibiotics, we were driven by two things: taste and a belief in simpler, cleaner ingredients,” said Scott Davis, Panera’s chief concept officer. “At the beginning, there wasn’t a national supply available, but our customers pushed us to continue the journey.”

Panera continues to work with its suppliers to increase the number of antibiotic-free proteins on its menu, and the company says it is currently exploring alternatives for beef and pork.

“Panera began with a simple commitment: to bake fresh bread every morning in every bakery-cafe,” said Ron Shaich, Panera Bread founder, chairman and CEO. “That single, powerful commitment set the stage for a series of deliberate, challenging decisions that have essentially made this company what it is — how we conduct business, the kind of cultural values we want to reflect and the impact we want to have on society. Our efforts to serve proteins raised without antibiotics are a demonstration of that commitment.”