‘Food Interrupted’: Panera Bread Digital Series Highlights Transparency


Panera Bread Food Interrupted

Meeting increased consumer demand for greater transparency, Panera Bread has launched “Food Interrupted,” a new digital platform to engage and educate patrons about food. Streaming on Facebook Watch, each episode highlights leaders in the food world meeting everyday heroes of America’s food system.

The first in the series, “Grains Interrupted,” feautures chef Marcus Samuelsson and Weiser Family Farms’ Jon Hammond. It focuses on the value of ancient grains and their role in the future of food.

Panera is the first national restaurant brand to disclose the whole grain content of breads on its menu.

The USDA recommends whole grains should comprise at least 50% of all grains eaten in a day. But more than half of the nation’s top restaurant chains don’t offer a single whole grain option on their menu. Others use terms like “multigrain,” “nine grain,” or “made with whole grains” that “may create an undue health halo for their bread offerings,” notes Panera.

Panera’s menu choices offer a wide range of whole grain breads including its new farm-style loaf made with 55% whole grains and offering 1.2 servings of whole grains per slice.

Panera is teaming with Participant Media’s SoulPancake, ACE Content and Huffington Post on the six-episode weekly series with topics ranging from clean ingredients and sugar consumption to animal welfare and plant-based meals.

The second episode, “Plants Interrupted,” focuses on heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US, and the leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters. Food blogger Kevin Curry and firefighter-turned-cookbook author Rip Esselstyn are out to convert a group of firefighters to a more plant-based diet.

“At our size and scale, we believe it’s part of our job to help revolutionize the food industry from the inside out—challenging the way things have always been done,” said Blaine Hurst, Panera CEO, in a press release. “From the whole grain in our breads to the ingredients in our food—we will be relentless, leading by example and committed to increased transparency. But we can’t do it alone. People deserve to know more about their food and how it makes its way to their plate. Together, we can make a real change in the food system.”

“At Panera, we’ve always tried to do what’s right, regardless of what our industry has accepted as efficient or good enough,” added Sara Burnett, Panera Director of Wellness. “Interestingly, multiple whole grain options available at grocers through our Panera at Home bread business helped remind us what really matters in bread and inspired us to translate their progress into our restaurants.”

Upcoming episodes include:

“Sugar Interrupted” (October 29). Chef Sam Talbot, a Type1 diabetic, discusses managing sugar intake and explores emerging technology that could be a potential game changer for those struggling with diabetes.

“Eggs Interrupted” (November 5). New York Times bestselling author and food enthusiast Hannah Hart visits an egg farm to learn what makes an egg 100% real, and discusses what some “eggs” are really made of.

“Meat Interrupted” (November 12). Chef Chris Cosentino visits a cattle ranch to learn about groundbreaking humane technology helping to track animal health.

“Clean Interrupted” (November 19). In pursuit of his own clean food journey, actor Rainn Wilson explores cutting-edge crop sharing among urban gardeners.

Panera has been offering quick service with quality food for 30 years, baking bread fresh daily in its bakery-cafes. Unsold bread and baked goods at the end of the day are shared with neighbors in need.

The brand that began as a 400-square-foot cookie store in Boston now has more than 2,300 units, nearly $6 billion in sales and over 100,000 associates.