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Panera petitions FDA for clear definition of ‘egg’ for restaurants

Panera petitions FDA for clear definition of ‘egg’ for restaurants
(LauriPatterson / Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Daily Meal

When Panera started serving breakfast food, we knew we’d found a good egg. Now, the fast-casual chain is asking for a crackdown to ensure that all eggs are good eggs - by pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to hold restaurants accountable for clearly listing ingredients in their “egg” dishes.

Currently, chains can get away with using egg substitutes or eggs enriched with other ingredients, while simply listing “egg” on the menu. When consumers eat their morning meal, they’re consuming more than just eggs - butter-type flavors, gums, and added color are all fair game - without even knowing it.

Panera makes the case that the number of ingredients in restaurant eggs is egg-cessive, pointing out that egg breakfasts from 50 percent of the top fast-casual chains contain eggs with five or more ingredients. Starbucks’ Sausage, Cheddar, & Egg Breakfast Sandwich, for example, is made with egg that contains 16 ingredients. Panera thinks an “egg” should be just one ingredient - the egg.

“Everything we offer at Starbucks is made with the highest-quality ingredients, and we have been transparent about what’s in our food and drinks for many years,” a Starbucks representative told The Daily Meal. However, Panera has a different perspective.

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“We find this misleading to the consumer who believes an egg sandwich contains a whole, cracked shell egg,” Sara Burnett, Panera’s director of wellness and food policy, told The Daily Meal. “We believe people deserve to know what’s in their food and make the best choices for them based on this knowledge.”

In conjunction with the launch of a breakfast menu featuring over-easy egg sandwiches, Panera Bread announced that it has sent a petition to the FDA to clearly define the word “egg” for restaurant ingredients and menus.

The petition requests that the FDA “clearly define the standard of identity for the term ‘egg’ on the grounds that it would promote honest and fair labeling and naming of food products for sale within retailers and foodservice.” Upon such a change, restaurants and retailers would either have to list the multiple egg-y ingredients on their labels or switch to using only real eggs.

“We hope the FDA will seriously consider drafting a clear, concise definition for public comment,” Burnett told The Daily Meal.

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The change would make a difference in food service quality for restaurants trying to add more nutritious breakfast options for American consumers. Eggs are a healthy, protein-rich ingredient that’s included in some of the healthiest fast food breakfast options.

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