More and More Restaurants Cutting High Fructose Corn Syrup From Menus
More and More Restaurants Cutting High Fructose Corn Syrup From Menus

Papa John’s recently became the first national pizza chain to remove high fructose corn syrup from its entire menu.

As the demand for better ingredients continues to skyrocket, more and more restaurants are entering the race to clean up their menus.

Earlier this week, Papa John’s announced that it has removed yet another consumer-targeted ingredient from its food menu—high fructose corn syrup. All 3,290 Papa John’s locations nationwide will be making the switch from high fructose corn syrup to sugar. With this action, the brand will become the first national pizza chain to remove high fructose corn syrup from its entire menu.

“Consumers really want to have natural ingredients,” said Sean Muldoon, chief ingredient officer for Papa John’s. “They not only want to understand what the ingredients are, but where they come from.”

High fructose corn syrup—that cheap and ubiquitous sweetener commonly found in sodas and processed foods—has long been public health enemy No. 1. Although high fructose corn syrup technically meets the Food & Drug Administration’s regulations for the use of the word “natural,” it’s not necessarily viewed as such by the typical consumer. In fact, nearly six in 10 consumers say double-checking if high fructose corn syrup is an ingredient in their food or beverage is either very important or somewhat important to them, according to a 2014 Harris Interactive survey of adults.

Papa John’s decision to remove high fructose corn syrup comes as more and more consumers demand better-for-you ingredients and improved nutritional offerings. Panera recently issued a “No-No List” of all the ingredients it won’t use in its foods. Subway has announced plans to sell products made with eggs only from cage-free hens by 2025. And McDonald’s announced new menu sourcing initiatives including only sourcing chicken raised without antibiotics.

Papa John’s has also long prided itself on better ingredients. The brand has devoted more than $100 million annually to clean up its menu, targeting 14 different ingredients to banish by the end of this year. The chain eliminated artificial flavors and synthetic colors from its menu in January and established a quality guarantee in February, promising to replace any pizza that doesn’t meet customers’ standards. By summer 2016, the chicken in Papa John’s grilled chicken pizza toppings and chicken poppers will be raised without antibiotics and will be fed a vegetarian diet.

“We think we’re on the front end of the trend,” Muldoon said. “The consumer has become more sophisticated. They want good taste and ingredients that are better for their bodies, or, at least, not full of processed foods.”

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