Papa John's commits to clean up its menu

by Rebekah Schouten
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Papa John's is following the clean-label commitment trend of other restaurants.

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. — For Papa John’s Inc., living up to its catchphrase “Better ingredients. Better pizza,” means fewer ingredients in some of its products. The chain plans to purge 14 ingredients, including artificial flavors and colors, from its offerings by the end of 2016. Papa John’s has already phased out three ingredients since 2014 – BHA and BHT, synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives, and partially hydrogenated oils – and said cellulose and yellow dye no. 5 will be removed by the end of June.

“Cleaning up our label means removing ingredients that do not meet our standard of quality or contribute to a better pizza,” the company said. “We’re proud of the fact that we have one of the cleanest labels in QSR as we have no trans fats, no MSG, no fillers in our meat toppings, no BHA, no BHT and no partially hydrogenated oils.”

Many of the ingredients the company plans to remove are formulated in its dipping sauces. Cleaning up the sauces will involve removing sodium benzoate and EDTA, a chelating agent, and replacing high fructose corn syrup with sugar. The process, however, poses some challenges.

“We are working to make our dipping sauces the best they can be,” the company said. “This is an ongoing effort, as removing preservatives from the sauces is a challenge with both refrigerated and shelf stable. As part of this process, we conduct real time shelf life studies that can take up to 16 weeks in order to ensure food safety and maintain the integrity of the sauce flavor.”

Papa John’s decision to remove ingredients perceived as artificial follows the clean label commitment trend of other restaurants, including Chipotle, Panera Bread, Noodles & Co., Taco Bell, Subway and Pizza Hut.

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