Subway Goes All-Natural as Industry Follows Chipotle's Lead

Drops Artificial Flavors, Colors and Preservatives in Fight for Healthy Image

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Subway Restaurants will remove artificial flavors, colors and preservatives from its menu in North America, becoming the latest restaurant chain to embrace all- natural ingredients.

The change, which affects sandwiches, salads, soups and cookies, will be made gradually over the next 18 months, according to a statement from the closely held company.

Subway will change its chicken strips, for example, to remove artificial flavors, the "flavor enhancers" disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate, and the preservative succinic acid, according to the chain.

Sauces such as teriyaki sauce and sweet onion dressing will lose their caramel coloring and high-fructose corn syrup.

Banana peppers now include tumeric for color instead of Yellow No. 5.

As part of the effort,Subway also will roll out a new roast beef recipe to its 27,000 U.S. locations.

Subway is facing fiercer competition from fast-casual chains such as Panera Bread Co. and Chipotle Mexican Grill, which tout the purity of their menus. Last year, the sandwich chain's domestic sales fell 3.3%, according to research firm Technomic.

Subway's latest move follows the removal of high-fructose corn syrup from its sandwiches and salads and caramel color from its wheat bread last year.

"We are committed to choice and quality, but we also take wellness and environmental responsibility very seriously," Elizabeth Stewart, director of corporate social responsibility for Subway, said in Thursday's statement. "The new menu items we are introducing are perfect examples of how we plan to continuously improve to serve our customers."

Taco Bell said last month that it's getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats from 95% of its menu by the end of 2015. In May, Panera also said it had purged artificial additives from 85% of its menu.

Subway, based in Milford, Connecticut, is owned by Doctor's Associates Inc.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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