Panera Bread Company (NASDAQ: PNRA) is marking the ten-year milestone of serving meat raised without antibiotics. Panera was one of the first national restaurants to buy proteins raised without antibiotics at scale. Today, all of the chicken, roasted turkey, sausage and ham used in Panera Bread’s salads and sandwiches are raised without the use of antibiotics.
In 2004, Panera introduced chicken raised without the use of antibiotics on its Strawberry Poppyseed Salad. Today, Panera offers 23 items that feature proteins raised without antibiotics after years of working with farmers, suppliers and industry experts to meet the new demand.
“When we began to serve meat raised without antibiotics, we were driven by two things: taste and a belief in simpler, cleaner ingredients,” says 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.”
Pew Health Initiatives reports that 80 percent of antibiotics currently sold in the United States are for livestock.
Many consumers have taken notice. According to a Consumer Reports survey, 24 percent of consumers said their usual supermarket doesn’t carry meats or proteins raised without antibiotics. Among those polled, 82 percent would buy antibiotic-free (ABF) proteins if they were available
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration announced steps to phase out the use of certain antibiotics in livestock feed.
“We support efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock and applaud the FDA’s efforts to elevate the debate and push for changing a broken food system,” says Davis.
Panera continues to work with its suppliers to increase the number of proteins on its menu that are raised without antibiotics and is currently exploring alternatives for beef and pork.
“We’ve worked closely with Panera Bread to change the way turkey is raised and bring it to tens of thousands of customers,” says Irwin Simon, Director of Plainville Farms.