Panel chooses healthiest fast-food chains

by Bakingbusiness Staff
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DALLAS — Panera Bread Co., Corner Bakery Cafe and McDonald’s were 3 of the 10 fast-food restaurant chains recently recognized by Health magazine as offering the healthiest food. A panel of nutritionists and dieticians assembled by Health scored the chains on such factors as the use of healthy fats and preparations, healthy sodium counts in entrees, availability of nutritional information, and the use of organic produce.

In its March issue, Health identified Panera as the No. 1 chain, saying the restaurant "wowed our judges" with a variety of healthy menu options for every daypart, including items such as half-turkey artichoke on focaccia bread and black bean or garden vegetable soup.

Jason’s Deli, with 206 locations in the West, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and South, ranked No. 2 in the survey. Health said the ranking reflected the restaurant’s devotion to organic food — about one-fifth of the ingredients used are organic. In addition, whole wheat wraps and a portion-control menu were highlights noted by Health.

Rounding out the top five were Au Bon Pain, Noodles and Company, and Corner Bakery Cafe. In commenting on Corner Bakery, Health pointed to the restaurant’s "fantastic breakfast menu," something the magazine said is rare in the quick-serve restaurant industry.

Among the remaining five restaurants cited by Health, McDonald’s appearance on the list was deemed a surprise by the magazine. But the No. 8 ranking was deserved, Health said, because of the chain’s efforts to overhaul its menu to offer more heart- and waist-friendly food.

"Our whole panel commends McDonald’s for spelling out the nutritional information right on the back of its tray liners," Health said.

The other four restaurants recognized by Health were Chipotle (No. 6), Atlanta Bread (No. 7), Einstein Bros. Bagels (No. 8) and Taco Del Mar (No. 10).

For more information on the study, visit www.health.com.

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