What’s not in your bagel: As important as what is

Does eating clean food feel better? We sure think so.

Since our very beginnings, Panera has been committed to sourcing and serving high quality ingredients that people feel good about eating.

We have removed all artificial preservatives, sweeteners and flavors, as well as colors from artificial sources from our U.S. food menu. That includes the dozens of ingredients on our official No No List: a list of artificial additives that we don’t think are necessary in our food.  

Want to know what is – and isn’t – in your consciously-curated, fresh-baked Panera bagel?  The chart below gives you a quick look how our Panera plain bagel compares to what you’ll find in some of the other popular plain bagels out there. We selected one fast-food option, and two different types of bagels that you might find at the grocery store.


In the list above we have highlighted in red the artificial ingredients found on our No No List.

As you can see, there are a couple of definite No Nos in those other bagels. But what are they all about?

1. L-Cysteine: Typically synthesized from duck feathers or – get this – human hair, this food additive is commonly used in large-scale factory baking operations as a dough conditioner, which helps dough to rise faster and improve its strength and workability. (Source)

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup: You may have heard of this sweetener before. Cheaper than table sugar and derived from corn, it is a common ingredient in soft drinks, pancake syrup and a variety of other foods where table sugar might otherwise be used. (Source)

3. Calcium Propionate: This is an artificial preservative – or more specifically, a mold inhibitor. This is one way to keep mold in baked goods at bay; the other is to bake them fresh daily. (Source)

4. Polysorbate: This is a class of additive called an emulsifier, which helps bind ingredients – like oil and water – so that they don’t separate. (Source).

What does it all mean?

Simply put, we believe in making delicious food you can feel good about eating; food that removes those hard-to-pronounce ingredients that we don’t think need to be in your food.

As you enjoy bagels at Panera, you can rest assured that we’ve removed those artificial ingredients you don’t want or need. The result? A delicious, clean bagel crafted by a skilled baker, made from a carefully-curated list of ingredients. We think clean food is simply better food. And we think you’ll agree.