IRVINE, CALIF. — Taco Bell, a Yum! Brands business unit, plans to remove all artificial flavors and colors from its food and replace them with alternatives perceived as natural by the end of 2015. The company also has set a goal of 2017 to remove all artificial preservatives and additives.
“People haven’t slowed down, and more than ever want quality and convenience,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer of Taco Bell. “They are seeking more information and a variety of options they can customize to meet their lifestyle, without giving up the flavors they love or the innovative food they expect at Taco Bell. They’re also telling us less is más when it comes to ingredients, so we’re simplifying with natural alternatives and staying true to who we are and what makes us unique.”
Part of the simple ingredient effort will also involve replacing unsustainable palm oil with sustainable R.S.P.O.-certified palm. The company said the changes will affect more than 95% of the chain’s core menu items, but not include beverages or co-branded items.
As part of its program, Taco Bell said it is also refreshing its web site with more user-friendly ingredient statements and it is adding a nutrition calculator that may be accessed on the brand’s web site or with a mobile device.
“We’re part of an exciting time — a food revolution,” said Liz Matthews, chief food innovation officer for Taco Bell. “Today’s customers are more curious and interested about food than ever. They want to understand what they’re eating and expect to know more about it. Their exploration in food is a journey, and one that we have also been on for the past 10 years. We are excited to bring new tools and the right information that is relevant to our fans today. We’re making it easy for them to understand what’s in our food and providing options for all of today’s lifestyles and price points. We’re not stopping here, and we are thrilled to bring our fans along.”Yum! Brands also owns the KFC and Pizza Hut chains. It did not say if it would extend the new program to those operations.