Panera CEO: '50 percent of the top 10 fast casual brands selling breakfast have an egg made from at least 5 ingredients'
In conjunction with the launch of Panera Bread's new breakfast sandwiches, featuring 100-percent real eggs, the company has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to establish a clear definition for the term, "egg."
When developing its new breakfast sandwiches, Panera execs discovered that FDA regulations did not establish a definition or a standard of identity for eggs, according to a company press release. Without this defintion, 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," Sara Burnett, Panera's director of wellness and food policy, said in the release.
"Panera and our competitors use the FDA definitions to guide our product descriptions and names," she said. "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 percent of the top 10 fast casual restaurants that sell breakfast have an "egg" made of at least five ingredients — often more, said Blaine Hurst, Panera's president and CEO.
"Responsible companies will be transparent about the food items they serve, even if regulation does not require them to do so," Hurst said. "At Panera, we believe 100 percent real eggs are the basis for a great breakfast sandwich."
Panera is hosting a #RespectTheEgg event today until 7 p.m. ET in New York City 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-percent clean ingredients versus those used by competitors, according to the release.
Customers can also try the new breakfast sandwiches at Panera locations nationwide and join the conversation around egg transparency on social media by using #RespectTheEgg.
All of Panera's breakfast sandwiches adhere to the brand's "100-percent 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 Vermont white cheddar cheese and thick-cut bacon, according to the release