Panera Tries Out Gluten-Free: Sandwich Chain Adds Gluten-Conscious Bread To The Menu

Panera has already banned an extensive list of artificial ingredients and colors from its items, and now the sandwich and bakery fast casual chain is completing their nutritious makeover with new gluten-free items. For the first time ever, Panera is adding gluten-conscious items (gluten-free baked goods that come in physical contact with glutinous products) to their menu. The first gluten-conscious item to be added to the menu is rosemary focaccia bread: Customers can ask for this bread for any of the sandwiches on the menu.

"There are some pretty poor gluten-free breads out there, so I went into this kicking and screaming," said Panera head baker Tom Gumpel. "Once I committed to it, I said to myself, 'how would you pull this off as an artisan baker?' We are responding to peoples requests and doing it with integrity."

Right now, rosemary focaccia bread is only being tested in Detroit, but will be launched at Paneras nationwide September 2016.

Gumpel also explained that the difference in taste between his bread and other packaged gluten-free breads out there is the amount of care that goes into the product.

"In order to hold up the physical structure of bread, you need to have gluten," he said. "When you remove that, what happens? Read the labels: There are 25 ingredients you can't pronounce, that was a big turn-off from the get-go. We didn't do that."