In push to scrap artificial dyes, restaurants facing a less vibrant color palette

artificial food dye

In chain restaurants’ bid to clear their menus of artificial additives, many are making the switch to duller natural dyes, such as those derived from vegetables, fruits and spices.

Though natural coloring agents can be costlier and more temperamental in recipes than their artificial counterparts, consumer backlash about menu items’ altered appearance is an additional concern. But not all concepts are worried, according to the Associated Press.

Subway, which plans to remove all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its menu in North America by 2017, says it will stop using synthetic dyes to brighten the shade of its banana peppers, opting for turmeric instead. 

And Panera Bread Co. is betting consumers won’t mind that its mozzarella cheese is slightly more yellow than before, due to the removal of titanium dioxide, or that the candy-coated chocolates in its cookies aren’t as vibrant. Over time, customers will adjust to the more muted hues of natural dyes, Panera’s head baker Tom Gumpel told the AP.

“You have to remove some of your expectations,” he said.

Panera, which has committed to removing artificial additives from its menu by the end of 2016, announced this week that its seasonal pumpkin spice latte will now contain real pumpkin.


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