Call it a "real food revolution."
On Tuesday, Yum Brands, Inc. — the American fast food company that operates KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut — announced that it will be working to remove artificial ingredients from two of its chain brands.
That includes Pizza Hut, which says it will remove artificial colors and preservatives from its menu by the end of July. But that's not all: customers can also expect to find at least 15 percent of Pizza Hut pizzas to have one third the daily recommended dietary allowance for sodium by the end of the 2015, with 20 percent of its pizzas meeting that criteria by 2020.
Pizza Hut has already made significant changes to its food in recent years, working to eliminate the use of partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), MSG, and added sugar. And Pizza Hut says all its meat toppings are filler-free: Italian sausage is all-natural and sourced from U.S. farmers, and meatballs are free of any artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
"Today’s consumer, more than ever before, wants to understand the ingredients that make up the foods that they enjoy,” Pizza Hut CEO David Gibbs said in a press release. “As the world’s largest pizza company…we are committed to doing this the right way and to make the changes that ensure only the highest quality and greatest
flavors in our food."
You can expect similar changes at sister restaurant Taco Bell, where the slogan is quickly becoming "less is más" when it comes to artificial ingredients.
"People haven’t slowed down, and more than ever want quality and convenience," Taco Bell Corp. CEO Brian Niccol said in a recent press release. "They’re also telling us 'less is más' when it comes to ingredients, so we’re simplifying with natural alternatives."
Rather than use black pepper flavoring, the company will now be using real black pepper, a key ingredient to the seasoning of the chain restaurant's ground beef. Taco Bell also plans on removing artificial dyes, including Yellow No. 6 from its nacho cheese, Blue No. 1 from its avocado ranch dressing, and carmine (a brightening pigment) from its red tortilla chip "strips."
New recipes reflecting these changes are currently being tested in select markets, and will be launched nationwide by the end of the year according to Liz Matthews, the chain’s chief food innovation officer.
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Such changes don't necessarily make the fast food healthier, but will help give customers a sense of control and satisfaction when it comes to knowing and understanding what they're eating, she said.
Moving forward, Taco Bell will remove all artificial flavors and colors, replacing them with natural alternatives by the end of 2015. The chain also plans to remove other additives like hydrogenated oils. By the end of 2017, Taco Bell will also look to remove artificial preservatives and additives where possible.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.