- Hollis Johnson
Papa John’s has completed a major transition toward building a cleaner menu.
As of July 1, the pizza chain has completed its transition to poultry raised without antibiotics and fed a vegetarian diet for grilled-chicken pizza toppings and chicken poppers, the company told Business Insider.
This makes Papa John’s the first national delivery-centric pizza chain to make such a switch.
“This transition is where the industry is going – consumers want raised-without-antibiotics chicken,” Sean Muldoon, Papa John’s chief ingredient officer, told Business Insider. “We’re proud to be the first.”
Papa John’s announced plans to make the switch to antibiotic-free chicken last December because of growing consumer concerns regarding the practice of farmers’ overreliance on the drugs.
The use of antibiotics is a hot topic in the pizza industry.
Take-and-bake pizza chain Papa Murphy’s announced on Monday that it began serving chicken raised without antibiotics across its entire menu in late June, making it the first and currently only pizza chain to do so. Pizza Hut has pledged to cut chicken produced with antibiotics important to human medicine by March 2017.
Research, including a2013 report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,offers evidence that antibiotic overdose is contributing to the rise of super-strong bacteria that no longer respond to antibiotics.
If the problem is allowed to continue, then it could mean a future in which we can no longer treat infections using antibiotics, thanks to the rise of superbugs.
Muldoon says that Papa John’s focus on what the company calls its “clean label journey” is inspired by a mix of consumer demand and scientific research.
“We’re a very consumer-centric company,” says Muldoon, with Papa John’s drawing from research on consumer trends and discussions with its supply chain. “We’re not always just chasing the next shiny object … but we try to be very clear in terms of how we define ‘clean label’ – what that means to us, and where those lines are.”
The company reports that its “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza” promise costs the company $100 million a year. In January, Papa John’s became thefirst national pizza chain to cut artificial ingredients from its food menu.
Next on the list: converting to cage-free eggs and completing the promise to cut14 “unwanted”additives from the menu by the end of the year.
But at the core of any restaurant chain remains the question of taste, something that Papa John’s says will not be compromised by changes. According to Muldoon, Papa John’s conducted months of testing, including a side-by-side taste test, to ensure that the new chicken’s flavor remained the same.
The chain’s commitment to quality is paying off. In June,Papa John’s was namedthe top pizza chainin the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), with a score of 82 out of 100. This is the 15th time out of the previous 17 years in which the chain has earned top marks in the pizza industry in overall customer satisfaction.