#RespectTheEgg: Panera Bread Wants FDA to Be a Good ‘Egg’

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Panera Bread egg breakfast sandwich

Panera Bread has quietly been expanding its vegan menu, but it’s also catering to lacto-ovo vegetarians and customers on high-protein diets—along with anyone who just plain loves eggs—by offering a new breakfast sandwich menu featuring “100% real eggs” starting this week.

For a taste of the new breakfast sandwiches, Panera is hosting a #RespectTheEgg pop-up event on Friday, Jan. 19, from 8 a.m. ET – 7 p.m. ET in New York City’s Soho district at 67 Greene St. Along with samples of the new breakfast sandwiches, the event will include a station “for the perfect social snap and a detailed comparison of Panera’s 100% clean ingredients versus those used by competitors.”

Emphasizing it’s using real eggs is key to the brand’s authenticity messaging, so it’s using the hashtag #respectheegg and also petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a clear definition for the term “egg.” Championing truth in advertising (and its own eggsacting standards), its sandwiches feature “100% real eggs,” which, at Panera, means freshly prepared, cracked shell eggs and/or egg whites with no additives.

According to a press release, in developing its newest breakfast sandwiches, Panera discovered that current FDA regulations do not establish a definition or a standard of identity for eggs. Without this, companies can sell and advertise items that contain multiple additives, such as butter-type flavors, gums and added color, under the generic term “egg.” Panera’s goal in petitioning the FDA is to better support and inform guests in the absence of a true definition for the term “egg.”

All of Panera’s breakfast sandwiches adhere to the brand’s “100% clean food” commitment. The new sandwiches feature extra-large, freshly cracked eggs cooked to order and served over-easy on a brioche bun made daily by a baker in every U.S. location and topped with classic ingredients like Vermont white cheddar cheese and thick-cut bacon.

“Panera and our competitors use the FDA definitions to guide our product descriptions and names,” Sara Burnett, Panera’s Director of Wellness and Food Policy, stated. “But in the case of ‘eggs,’ we have no guidance. Brands can say they offer an egg sandwich, but sell an egg product that contains multiple additives. At Panera, consumers can be assured that when they order eggs, that’s exactly what they’re getting.”

After discovering the FDA’s lack of definition for the simple term “egg,” Panera began exploring menus from other companies in the food industry to better understand what’s in their “egg” sandwiches. Panera found that 50% of the top 10 fast casual restaurants that sell breakfast have an “egg” made of at least five ingredients, often more.

“Responsible companies will be transparent about the food items they serve, even if regulation does not require them to do so,” Blaine Hurst, Panera’s President and CEO, said. “At Panera, we believe 100% real eggs are the basis for a great breakfast sandwich.”

All ingredients in the new breakfast sandwiches are clean, with no artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives or colors from artificial sources. In addition, guests can customize the sandwiches to their taste, swapping an egg white for an over-easy egg, adding spinach or avocado, or spicing things up with sauces like sweet maple or chipotle mayo.

Customers are invited to try the new breakfast sandwiches at Panera locations across the U.S. and join the conversation around egg transparency on social media by using #RespectTheEgg, which is already starting to pop up in sponsored posts on Instagram.

How Panera describes itself in its boilerplate:

Thirty years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. We believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To us, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.

So we began with a simple commitment: to bake fresh bread every day in our bakery-cafes. No short cuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbors in need.

These traditions carry on today, as we have continued to find ways to be an ally for wellness to our guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches that we are proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on our salads and sandwiches.

A commitment to transparency and options that empower our guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavors and whole grains. And a commitment to removing or not using artificial additives (flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and colors from artificial sources) in the food in our bakery-cafes. Why? Because we think that simpler is better and we believe in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating.

We’re also focused on improving quality and convenience. With investments in technology and operations, we now offer new ways to enjoy your Panera favorites – like mobile ordering and Rapid Pick-Up for to-go orders and delivery – all designed to make things easier for our guests.

As a result, Panera has been one of the most successful restaurant companies in history. What started as one 400-square-foot cookie store in Boston has grown to a system with more than 2,300 units, nearly $6 billion in system-wide sales, and over 100,000 associates.

In more than 25 years as a publicly traded company, Panera has created significant shareholder value. Before the JAB acquisition in July 2017, Panera was the best-performing restaurant stock of the past 20 years, delivering a total shareholder return up 86-fold from July 18, 1997, to July 18, 2017, compared to a less than twofold increase for the S&P 500 during the same period.

In late 2017, Panera acquired Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc., parent company of the 304-unit Au Bon Pain bakery-cafe chain. The acquisition reunites Panera and Au Bon Pain, both of which were founded by Ron Shaich, and will intensify Panera’s growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities and transportation centers.

As of Dec. 26, 2017, there were 2,065 bakery-cafes in 46 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread®, Saint Louis Bread Co. ® or Paradise Bakery & Cafe® names. For more information, visit panerabread.com or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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