Taco Bell and Pizza are the latest chain restaurants to announce they will swap artificial ingredients for real food. According to the Guardian, pseudo-Mexican chain Taco Bell says that by the end of 2015, its beef will feature actual black pepper instead of "black pepper flavor." The chain will also rid its menu of artificial dyes like the Yellow No 6 in its nacho cheese, and the Blue No 1 in its avocado ranch dressing. Alongside the removal of artificial colors and flavors, Taco Bell adds that it plans to stop using high-fructose corn syrup and "unsustainable" palm oil. By 2017, the menu will also be free of artificial preservatives. Taco Bell's CEO Brian Niccol tells Nation's Restaurant News, "[Consumers are] telling us less is más when it comes to ingredients."
"...Less is más when it comes to ingredients."
Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's chief food innovation officers, says that the artificial ingredients will be removed from around 95 percent of the chain's menu (sodas and co-branded products like Doritos-flavored taco shells will remain untouched). Matthews insists that there will be no real changes in flavor. Niccol adds that while prices may slightly increase due to the changes, the chain will "work to keep its menu affordable": "I do not want to lose any element of being accessible to the masses."
Pizza Hut — which is owned by Yum! Brands, along with Taco Bell — is also making changes to its ingredient list. The chain will remove artificial colors and preservatives from its menu by the end of July. KFC — the third chain owned by Yum — has yet to comment on whether or not it plans to remove artificial ingredients and serve antibiotic-free chicken, though it is facing serious pressure to do so.
The announcements by Taco Bell and Pizza Hut come just two months after McDonald's revealed that it would stop using chicken and milk treated with human antibiotics. Soon after, Panera announced that it will eliminate a lengthy list of artificial flavorings, preservatives, and controversial sweeteners from its menu items by 2016.