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Panera Adds Eco Friendly Badges to Denote Low Carbon Footprint Menu Items

Plus, McDonald’s gets hit with another discrimination lawsuit, and more news to start your day

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Panera Bread storefront. Photo: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Panera is adopting carbon labels for its entrees

A decade after becoming the first national restaurant chain to label its menu items with calorie counts, Panera Bread is going a step further by labeling which of its entrees are climate friendly. Starting today, the fast-casual chain will use “Cool Food Meal” badges to denote which salads, sandwiches, and soups have carbon footprints of less than 5.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

While New York-based Just Salad was the first restaurant chain to adopt carbon labels earlier this summer — a move that led to an increase in sales, reports — Panera is the first national chain to do so. More than half of its entrees have earned its new climate friendly designation, including broccoli cheddar soup, Fuji apple salad with chicken, and the Mediterranean bowl. The chain worked with environmental nonprofit World Resources Institute to calculate the carbon footprints of ingredients and to adopt the “Cool Food Meal” badges.

“By labeling Cool Food Meal menu items, we hope to educate our guests on sustainable options and help them understand the correlation between their meals and the climate,” Sara Burnett, Panera’s vice president of food values, sustainability, and public affairs, said in a press release. “While many consumers are more aware of solutions such as driving less and recycling – the impact of your plate is real and just as important.”

Per a 2019 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the global food system — including growing crops for human consumption and for feeding livestock, transportation, packaging, and more — contributes up to 37 percent of global greenhouse emissions. While ecolabel certifications, from “organic” to “cruelty free,” can be vague and vary widely in standards, advocates say that such labels can make a difference when it comes to consumer awareness and behavior.

And in other news…

  • Black McDonald’s employees have filed the fourth racial discrimination lawsuit against the chain this year. [NRN]
  • Major poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride will pay $110.5 million to settle charges of chicken price-fixing. [NYT]
  • Walmart’s Black Friday will look a little different this year, with limited store capacity and sales spread over three days to avoid overcrowding. [Business Insider]
  • Inside downtown office lunch staple Pret A Manger’s fight to survive the pandemic. [NYT]
  • Kraft Heinz and game publisher Big G Creative are releasing a set of board games inspired by Kraft Mac & Cheese, Heinz Ketchup, and Jell-O. [USA Today]
  • Sohla El-Waylly, profiled. [Vulture]

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