When I first started this blog (7 years ago), I had no clue what an adventure it would be. I had no idea that anyone besides my own friends and family would read what I wrote. I certainly never knew that my investigations would inspire some of the largest companies in the world to change their ingredients and become more transparent.
I was shocked when I investigated the food I was eating and saw what was really in it. And once I realized the food that I was eating, wasn’t actually real food but full of processed chemicals, my health began to soar! Reading ingredient lists and knowing what’s in your food is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health.
When we ask what’s in our food – companies should tell us. Period. We all deserve to know exactly what we are eating.
That’s why I was pumped to hear what the new restaurant chain The Organic Coup is doing.
Starting today, The Organic Coup is the first fast food chain to start putting the ingredient list directly on the package.
The Organic Coup was the first certified organic fast food chain and has quickly grown to 12+ restaurants. It is even in Levi’s Stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play. I can’t wait for them to be on my side of the country! The founders Erica Welton and Dennis Hoover are formerly from Costco and spearheaded bringing organic offerings there, helping to make it the largest organic retailer in America.
Although The Organic Coup had their ingredients published online since inception, now when you eat there, there will be no question about what you are eating as it will be RIGHT THERE when you get your food. I know of no other restaurants who are doing this, and I think this is remarkable. Wouldn’t it be awesome if all chains did this?
At the very least, every restaurant out there should publish their ingredients for consumers.
If a restaurant wants to be a leader in the industry, they should have nothing to hide. Unfortunately that is not the case. Many big restaurant chains refuse to tell you what is in their food if you ask, let alone publish the ingredient list online. The FDA doesn’t require restaurants to disclose this information, so they are given a free pass to hide their ingredients from consumers. Restaurants will tell you that they won’t disclose ingredients for “Proprietary” reasons… as if they’re worried a competitor will steal their recipes. We all know this isn’t the real issue. The biggest restaurant chains like McDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell, and Burger King have had full ingredient lists published on their websites for years.
Nonetheless there are some big holdouts. Big chains like Bojangles, Shake Shack, Quiznos, Panda Express, and Sonic Drive-In downright refuse to disclose what’s in their food (except for allergen info). When we called Little Caesars corporate offices last week, they told us they wouldn’t disclose the full ingredient list in their pizza unless we had a DOCTOR contact them. Isn’t that ridiculous?!! Is there a doctor in the house who wants to give them a call and get the ingredients for us? Other big restaurant chains like Red Robin will eventually provide ingredients if you call and pester them to death… but most customers don’t have that kind of tenacity. These restaurants serve millions of customers who have no clue what they are really eating.
How can we inspire these companies to be transparent and publish their ingredients?
Years ago, one of my first big investigations was into Chipotle. They called themselves “Food with Integrity” – yet at first, they blatantly refused to tell me what was in their food. I found this astonishing, and of course, felt compelled write about it. I made it loud and clear on my blog that no one should trust a company that is not willing to disclose their ingredients. I wrote, “How can we trust Chipotle’s definition of ‘Food with Integrity’ when they refuse to post their ingredients or send the information to customers who ask?” People got so angry and frustrated that they stormed Chipotle’s social media pages. Someone even started an online petition on my behalf to pressure the company into being honest about how their food was prepared. We gathered 2,000 signatures almost immediately. Ultimately, this petition came to the attention of Chipotle’s corporate offices and the next thing I knew they were contacting me and agreed to publish their ingredients on their website. This was a huge win for consumers!
As you can see – putting pressure on companies to change their practices leads to actual results. Consumer activism and demanding transparency is very effective. We together are changing the food system and I could never do this alone.
ACTION: Join me in asking these restaurants to publish their ingredients!
This simple action can make sweeping change and takes very little effort. To give you an example… here’s a message that I just sent to Shake Shack this morning. I will be sending similar messages to the entire list of chains below. Feel free to copy what I wrote, or make it your own… but please take a minute to ask your favorite restaurants to do the same:
“Please publish the complete ingredient list for your food on your website. Customers are increasingly seeking ingredient information because they are concerned about food additives and their relation to health, or have other allergies and food sensitivities that are not provided on your allergen statement. Without full ingredient disclosure, consumers are left in the dark, which prevents them from eating at your restaurants.
Most big restaurant chains like KFC, Subway, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King, publish their complete ingredient lists online. I simply ask that you do the same. I thank you in advance for listening to your customers and doing the right thing.”
Let’s make some noise! Send emails, post on their social media pages, and give them a call.
Here’s a list of contact information for popular chains that refuse to publish their ingredients online. Pick one (or a few) and join me in asking them to be transparent and publish their ingredients:
- In-N-Out Burger (Facebook)
- Shake Shack (Facebook, Twitter)
- Panda Express (Facebook, Twitter)
- Little Caesars Pizza (Note: they told us the Pizza Kit ingredients are different and NOT the same as what they serve in the restaurant) (Facebook, Twitter)
- Moe’s Southwest Grill (Facebook, Twitter)
- Quiznos (Facebook, Twitter)
- Jimmy Johns (Facebook, Twitter)
- Sonic Drive-In (Facebook, Twitter)
- The Habit Burger Grill (Facebook, Twitter)
- Bojangles (Facebook, Twitter, Petition)
- Mellow Mushroom Pizza (Facebook, Twitter)
Over the last few years, we’ve convinced some multi-billion dollar corporations, like Chipotle, Starbucks, and Anheuser-Busch, to finally publish their ingredients for the first time in history. And, we can do it again! Everyone deserves to know exactly what he or she are eating and our job will not be done until we all have this information.
Also, take a moment to thank The Organic Coup for spearheading the transparency movement by putting their ingredients right on the package. You can find them on Facebook here.
Thank you for being warriors of change along with me!
P.S. The more of us who take action, the more likely it will be that restaurants will be inspired to change. Please share this post with your loved ones and ask them to take action too! It only takes a few minutes.