I am pleased to share the response I received from the letter (my blog entry: Crayola Colored Yogurt) I sent July 10th, 2010 to the CEO of Au Bon Pain. To catch new readers you up to speed, I wrote a letter to the CEO of Au Bon Pain about my concern with the artificial dyes they use in their yogurts. I will have you know, this conversation is not over.
July 28th, 2010
Dear Ms. Silverman,
Thank you for taking the time to write to Sue. She sent along your note to me and asked me to get back to you. You are clearly a loyal patron of Au Bon Pain!
Thank you, also, for bringing to our attention our use of Red 40 and Blue 1 in our yogurt. I have checked with our culinary team and they explained that these ingredients are, not surprisingly, used to add color. I have asked them to go back to our supplier to see if there are other natural ways to color the yogurt. If not, we will move to the natural color and rely on the fruit to convey the variety.
We should have an answer for you soon.
Thank you again for writing and we hope to see you soon in one of our cafes.
Below is the original letter (blog post July 10th) I send to Ms. Morelli.
July 10, 2010
Sue Morelli, CEO
Au Bon Pain
19 Fid Kennedy Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
Dear Ms. Morelli,
As a pediatric registered dietitian I have always been impressed with Au Bon Pain. Your food has terrific flavor and an impressive menu to choose from. When I worked at the University Of Chicago Medical Center I chose lunch from you many more times than I did from the hospital cafeteria or from a packed lunch from home. And please know I have always had top notch service at your restaurants all over the country. Your employees are knowledgeable, friendly and represent your Au Bon Pain image well. As you can see, I am quite familiar with Au Bon Pain and this is why I feel I can offer you valuable insight.
Yesterday I was flew across the country with my 4 year old son and 3 year old daughter. We had a long layover in Dallas airport. The kids were hungry and cranky. Thankfully, you have eight locations in that airport so you were easy to find. We ordered fruit, yogurt and sandwiches and sat down near our gate to eat the food. Because I work in nutrition I read food labels to continually educate myself on nutrition for my clients. Your fresh fruit ingredients were what I expected from Au Bon Pain; fresh fruit, no additives and no preservatives. Then I read the strawberry yogurt label and I was shocked. There was Red 40 and Blue 1 in the ingredient list. Can you explain to me why your yogurt contains food dyes when the ingredient list already contains strawberries and blueberries? Research is proving that these dyes pose potential health risks. My suggestion to you is to be an industry leader and remove the food dyes from your menu; removing them from the yogurt is an easy fix. Michael Jacobson from the Center for Science in the Public Interest recently wrote an important article that I have included for your review.
Stay ahead of the game Ms. Morelli. Take a hard look at your food ingredients and make the changes now. You may remember that you did a great interview for Fast Casual in October 2007. One of the questions they asked you was “Where do you think the bakery café is headed over the next 20 years?” You replied, “…we always will be about good, fresh food… in our industry it will be more about great flavor and taste combinations, offered as fresh and as nutritionally sound as possible” Keep your food nutritionally sound. Remove the food dyes.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for taking time to read my letter.
Melanie R. Silverman MS, RD, IBCL