Taco Bell, Pizza Hut Say Goodbye to Fake Ingredients

That’s right. Major food chains, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, could be giving places like Chipotle a run for its money. In light of Chipotle’s recent decision to become GMO-free, other fast food restaurants are jumping on board. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are the latest chains to decide that artificial ingredients are a thing of their pasts. This year, both chains, owned by YUM Brands, will commit to new menus where they plan to gradually cut out all “fake,” or artificial ingredients. Artificial flavors and colors will be no more, and instead, things like “black pepper flavor” will now become actual real black pepper, according to USAToday’s article.

Why do companies use artificial flavors? The answer is not so simple. They really had no choice. Most fast food corporations rely on artificial flavors to give food that has been so processed flavor again. In other words, these “fake” flavors must be used because the processed food has no natural flavor left.

So why is this important? Why are consumers now, more than ever, wanting to know what really goes in their food? And what exactly have artificial flavors and colors been doing to our bodies?

1. Yoga Mats and Shoe Soles
These chains have been known to “deepen” the vibrancy of their meals with artificial colors. But because in recent events consumers are showing distaste for these methods, even places like Subway and McDonald’s have also jumped on the bandwagon to get rid of these fake ingredients. In fact, some of the genetically modified organisms and chemicals once used on their menus were also used in non-food products, including yoga mats and shoe soles. Chew on that for a minute.

2. Consumers Care
In all aspects of eating, consumers are beginning to care. More than one-third (roughly 78.6 million) of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because these health concerns have become an overwhelming statistic, consumers of fast food want to know what is going in their meals. Fast food is not going away anytime soon, so companies are willing to nix artificial flavors and chemicals to give consumers what they need.

3. YUM’s Role and Other Companies Following Suit
Companies do not want to lose any of their business or the accessbility to the masses. And the masses are saying: “We want real food.” Taco Bell’s plan is to remove artificial colors, flavors and high-fructose corn syrup and palm oil from its menu by the end of 2015 (Of course, this change will not affect artifically-flavored drinks or signature items, such as fountain pop or the Dorito Tacos). So does this mean Taco Bell will become a natural-ingredient fast food place? The answer is still unclear. Panera is hoping to move away from all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives by the end of 2016. Nestle also plans to stop using artificial ingredients by the end of 2015.

The move to real food is a real thing and popular food chains are each claiming their shift to a new natural menu. As companies begin facing this transitional period, perhaps avoiding GMOs and artificial flavoring altogether is to wait this one out and start shopping organically.