Here is the copy of a letter I wrote to the CEO of Au Bon Pain today. The Michael Jacobson link can be found here for your reference.
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, IBCLC